Trump questions United Nations global warming report

Catherine McKenna

Landmark UN global warming report carries life-or-death warning

The report, released in South Korea by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that the world's economies must quickly reduce fossil fuel use while at the same time dramatically increasing use of clean, efficient energy.

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off, the report said.

The world's governments asked for the report in 2015, when a global pact to tackle climate change was agreed upon.

- Human-induced warming reached approximately 1C above pre-industrial levels in 2017.

The WWF called on the European Union to take urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, saying in a press release: "Approved by 195 governments, the report underscores the small window of opportunity we have to make immediate, deep and transformational changes - without which the world we know will be irreversibly changed". By 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C.

One expert - Appalachian State University environmental scientist Gregg Marland - said limiting global warming to either 1.5 or 2 degrees seems unlikely.

The Arctic is likely to be ice-free in summer around once a century at 1.5C but at least once a decade if warming climbs to 2C.

The report summary said renewable energy would need to supply 70 per cent to 85 per cent of electricity by 2050 to stay within a 1.5C limit, compared with about 25 per cent now.

"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", said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

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Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner.

The atmosphere is nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) hotter than it was at the start of the industrial revolution, and burning more fossil fuels will accelerate the shift toward higher temperatures, the group said in its report.

The signatories of the Paris Agreement would have to make sweeping changes to everything from industry and building, to land use, how cities run, and, of course, how we produce energy.

Action will also be needed to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Any additional emissions would require removing Carbon dioxide from the air.

"Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes", said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. They invited the scientists to tell them about this because the Paris Agreement said, we're going to pursue efforts towards 1.5 degrees. But the report warns that "the effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development". To this end, research and Innovation will play a crucial role in our efforts to tackle climate change and the European Union will continue to lead in that domain.

Taking the valuable input from the Report into account, the Commission will work to present in November an European Union strategy for long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction. One is that there are a big difference in terms of the impacts of climate change at 1.5 and 2 degrees, and the other one is that we really need quite radical changes to the amount of emissions we have globally. The livestock sector is estimated to account for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) declared it had "high confidence" in its predictions.

"The construction and property industry in the United Kingdom is an economic juggernaut, and our buildings account for approximately 30 per cent of carbon emissions". Currently, however, the world is on track to see between 2.7 and 3.4 degrees of warming, the IPCC has said.

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