Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

‘Act urgently‚’ say SA experts after UN’s dire global warming warning

‘Act urgently‚’ say SA experts after UN’s dire global warming warning

Earth is on track to face devastating consequences of climate change - extreme drought, food shortages and deadly flooding - unless there's an "unprecedented" effort made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a new United Nations report warns.

Temperatures could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius as soon as 2030 if global warming continues at its current pace and the world fails to take rapid and unprecedented measures to stem the increase, experts warned in a landmark United Nations report on Monday.

In order to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, by 2050, coal electricity generation would need to be reduced to 0-2% of global generation. "Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all ( 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C", as the IPCC related in the release.

The report highlighted a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in comparison to 2 degrees Celsius or higher.

The Scottish Government will seek fresh independent advice on its climate change targets after a new report warned countries must take "unprecedented" action to slash carbon emissions.

Tweeting shortly after the report was launched UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that it is not impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to the report.

"International cooperation is absolutely imperative to limit emissions and therefore global warming and its impacts, as well as coordinating effective and widespread adaptation and mitigation", said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a fellow at the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales.

"A key finding of the report is that 1.5°C is not a safe level of global warming; however it is much safer than 2.0 °C", Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said. By the year 2030, global human-caused emissions of Carbon dioxide would need to fall by roughly 45 percent relative to 2010 levels. The changes required, from energy to agriculture, are "unprecedented in terms of scale", the group writes in a summary for policymakers.

"This is as you know the latest in a long line of reports dating back to the early 1990's from the IPCC and each time one comes out they do their best to ratchet up the alarm that the world's scientists have been giving us with so far precious little effect".

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The UN-backed study said the impacts of climate change, from droughts to rising seas, will be less extreme if temperature rises are curbed at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels than if they climb to 2C.

When water heats up, it expands meaning when oceans likely continue to rise, the IPCC says, we can expect the oceans to rise between 28 to 98cm by 2100, enough to swamp numerous cities along the USA east coast.

The report finds that renewable energy must make up half of the global energy mix by 2050, and coal needs to be out of the power sector altogether by then.

Methods to take excess carbon out of the atmosphere will also be needed.

- If the pace of warming continues, the temperature would reach 1.5C around 2040.

"We are still going to see many challenges at 1.5°C".

The report said the lower target would mean the Arctic Ocean would be free of sea ice in summer only once per century not at least once a decade under the higher target.

The report fired up activists even as critics dismissed the deadline as another arbitrary "climate tipping point", as Climate Depot's Marc Morano put it.

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