The world heating up by even 1.5C would have a brutal impact on future generations
Sun 7 Oct 2018 21.00 EDT Last modified on Mon 8 Oct 2018 08.33 EDT
The authoritative new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sets the world a clear target: we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by the middle of this century to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C.
Every government should read this report and recognise the clear choice we now have.
Accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable growth or suffer the mounting damage from sea level rise, floods and droughts that will severely hinder efforts to tackle poverty, raise living standards and improve prosperity.
The report, prepared by leading researchers from around the world, warns that the world has already warmed by about 1C since the middle of the 19th century, and could reach 1.5C at the current rate of warming before the middle of this century.
Human activities are currently emitting about 42bn tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and at that rate the carbon budget – allowing us a 50-50 chance of keeping warming to 1.5C – would be exhausted within 20 years.
Even 1.5C of warming would have brutal consequences, according to the report. Poor people, in particular, would suffer as the threat of food and water shortages increase in some parts of the world.
But the report makes clear that allowing warming to reach 2C would create risks that any reasonable person would regard as deeply dangerous.
One of the report’s most stark statements is that “limiting global warming to 1.5C, compared with 2C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050”.