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Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible – if there is political will

(The Guardian, 8 Oct 2018) The UN’s climate change report shows every fraction of a degree matters but world governments now have the chance to deliver a safer future.

The new 1.5C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a sophisticated intelligence briefing on the fate of our planet. Its message is relevant to every human being on Earth.

Based on more than 6,000 scientific studies, the report was compiled by more than 80 of the world’s top climate scientists from nearly 40 countries, and calibrates 40,000 peer-review comments. It is a robust and outstanding example of international cooperation, and an extraordinary source of shared intelligence.

With brutal clarity the report covers the devastating consequences of allowing global warming to reach 2C above pre-industrial levels. It makes clear that every fraction of a degree truly matters.

When compared to the impacts of a 2C temperature increase, limiting warming to 1.5C (we are already at 1C) would significantly reduce the risk of severe and extreme weather events, particularly heatwaves and heat-related mortality. It would halve the number of humans that will be exposed to water scarcity; prevent runaway sea level rise that could put many of the world’s islands under water and render uninhabitable the large delta and low-coastal regions that are home to two-thirds of the world’s population. It would prevent the almost total loss of the world’s beautiful coral reefs, protect economic growth and be far less expensive to manage.

There is nothing opaque about this new data. The illustrations of mounting impacts, the fast-approaching and irreversible tipping points are visceral visions of a future that no policymaker could wish to usher in or be responsible for.

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The Guardian, 8 Oct 2018: Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible – if there is political will