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Our time is running out, warns UN climate report

A number of climate change impacts could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius
by TR Pakistan

Following a week-long meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in South Korea, a monumental 400-page report stressing the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius (°C) was released on Monday.

The IPCC special report is being seen as a scientific guide to help governments and policymakers better implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to restrict the rise in global average temperatures to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The report states that this would not be possible without reducing man made carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

The report is written by 90 scientists and based on more than 6,000 peer reviews. It was prepared under the leadership of three IPCC Working Groups. Working Group I assessed the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addressed impact, adaption and vulnerability and Working Group III dealt with the mitigation of climate change.

Read more: New Report Highlights Pakistan’s Need to Adapt to Climate Change

A summary of the report states that the world is already seeing the consequences of global temperature rising by 1°C in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice. 

It goes on to stress that a number of climate change impacts could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C. The report states that the difference of half a degree could keep the rise in sea levels lower by 10 centimetres by the year 2100, and that coral reefs would only decline by 70 to 90 percent with a temperature rise of 1.5°C , compared to 99 percent with a 2°C rise.

Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III said, “Limiting warming to 1.5 °C is possible with the laws of chemistry and physics, but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Elaborating on on this, Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II stated, “This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

Unsurprisingly, the report backs the use of carbon pricing, and stresses that governments need to make a decisive shift towards renewable energy. It stated that while 25 percent of the global electricity supply comes from renewable sources today, this number would need to rise to 70 percent by 2050. The report also recommended the use of carbon capture and storage technology.

Previous reports have also highlighted Pakistan’s need to adapt to climate change. In November 2017, Germanwatch — a German think-tank advocating for the prevention of climate change —  declared Pakistan the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change in its Global Climate Risk Index.

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