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United Nations report on global warming carries life-or-death warning

10 October 2018

Following the 2015 Paris Agreement to hold the global increase in climate to below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was asked to produce a report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5℃.

If nothing is done, Earth can expect heat wave temperatures to rise by 3 degrees Celsius, more frequent or extreme droughts, an increase in deadly hurricanes and as much as 90 percent of coral reefs dying off - including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, according to the report.

Increasingly, you don't have to convince Australian farmers of that.

Many now accept that climate change is making the world a hotter place.

The rise has already triggered consequences we are seeing through the seasons such as more extreme weather.

The IPCC thinks we still have a chance of keeping warming to 1.5℃.

Soot, or black carbon, is another byproduct of burning fossil fuels, and its effects can clearly be seen at the poles, particularly the Arctic.

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To contain warming at 1.5C, manmade global net carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels and reach "net zero" by mid-century, the report said. At least 70 percent of electricity supply will need to come from renewables by 2050 to stay within the 1.5C limit, compared with about 25 percent now.

The 1.5-degree scenario will require cutting Carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 45 percent over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030 and to a net zero by 2050-net zero meaning that all Carbon dioxide released will need to be captured and stored or reused.

Greenpeace's Kaisa Kosonen summed up why the report matters: "Scientists might want to write in capital letters, "ACT NOW IDIOTS", but they need to say that with facts and numbers".

An author of the recent report, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the United States red-flagged several findings of the scientific summary for policymakers, but finally all nations endorsed it.

That means trying to limit the increase in the average global ground temperature to 1.5 degrees C, rather than 2 C as specified in the Paris climate change accord.

"The math just doesn't work well."The Paris agreement signatories committed to work toward limiting warming to 1.5 C, and the IPCC report found that catastrophic impacts could be avoided if they succeed".

Average global temperatures have already soared by an average of 1 degree since the start of the 20th century.

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Pre-industrial levels refers to the climate before the industrial revolution when greenhouse gas emissions were stable.

"Limiting warming to (2.7 degrees) is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics", Jim Skea of Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report, said, "but doing so would require unprecedented changes".

Swiftly reducing emissions - even with carbon removal - will also require unprecedented levels of global cooperation, a particular challenge as some national governments, like that in the United States, look increasingly inward.

"We have to live our lives in a way that makes a difference". On current trends the 1.5°C threshold could be reached as early as 2030.

But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field.

HFCs are prime examples of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), a range of chemicals that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities and contribute to global warming. But it is change on a scale we have never experienced before: "There is no historical precedent for the scale of the necessary transitions, in particular in a socially and economically sustainable way".

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United Nations report on global warming carries life-or-death warning