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  • Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C

  • Tuesday, 16th October 2018

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C on 8 October 2018, making an urgent call for policymakers that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.

The Special Report clearly presents the multiple benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, for example,
1. a slower rate of sea level rise which enables greater opportunities for adaptation in the human and ecological systems of small islands, low-lying coastal areas and deltas;
2. lower impact on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems which helps retain more of their services to human;
3. lower ocean warming and acidification and hence lower risks to marine biodiversity and ecosystems;
4. lower climate-related risks to health, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth; and
5. lower adaptation needs.

Human activities have already caused approximately 1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and we are already seeing the consequences of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice. To contain global warming to 1.5°C, human-caused carbon emissions have to decline by about 40% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050. Current national pledges of emission reductions under the Paris Agreement would not suffice to achieve the goal. The goal can only be achieved if global carbon emissions start to decline well before 2030. Based on the intended nationally determined contributions for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions made by the countries at the Paris Agreement, a global warming of around 3°C would be more likely by the end of this century.

The Special Report gives policymakers the information they need to make decisions to tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s need. The decisions that are made by countries today will be critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future.

The Special Report is available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15.

fig 1
Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C
Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change