UN Climate Change Report Makes Absolutely Harrowing Predictions For The Near Future
The nations of the world have a narrow path to preventing global temperatures from overshooting the most ambitious target in the Paris Agreement on managing climate change, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations panel said in a new report.
However, it would take an effort the likes of which the planet has never seen.
The much-anticipated assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a bleak picture of humanity’s odds of averting a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures. That increase leaves the world at greater risk of sea level rise, drought, extreme weather events and species extinction.
Climate scientists gathered in Incheon, South Korea this month to assess the world’s odds of achieving the tougher of two temperature targets in the Paris Agreement.
The agreement aims to mobilize nations to take action to prevent global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. But it also calls on countries to pursue measures that would cap that rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
More than 91 researchers and editors from 40 countries were involved in the report and the document cites more than 6,000 scientific references. The report describes the future, saying that by 2040, the world could likely see even more severe food shortages and wildfires around the world, along with the widespread death of coral reefs.
Much of the report focused on greenhouse gas emissions; the authors concluded that should emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will heat up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040. The result of this rise in temperature would be coastline flooding as well as worsening droughts and poverty.
The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are “clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said.
To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop. Switching away rapidly from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to do this could be three to four times more expensive than the less ambitious goal, but it would clean the air of other pollutants. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said.
If immediate and drastic action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic climate future.