United Nations report warns of possible climate disaster by 2040

The IPCC report underwent an extensive peer-review process that elicited tens of thousands of comments and includes a special "summary for policymakers" that resulted from discussions among scientists and government officials last week in Incheon, South Korea, the Post reports.

The report makes it clear that climate change is already happening - and what comes next could be even worse, unless urgent global political action is taken.

The latest report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is, honestly, the sort of thing that should force the world's citizens out into the streets.

In the report, issued Monday, scientists describe a harrowing tale of increased food shortages, wildfires and the end of coral reefs, a critical resource for the habitation of many marine animals.

"We are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes", said Panmao Zhai, one of the report's authors.

This, in turn, would accelerate the collapse of permafrost, releasing its ancient stores of methane, a super climate pollutant 30 times more potent in causing warming than carbon dioxide.

That benchmark is lower than the one set by the global Paris Agreement, which aimed to prevent the planet from warming by 3 degrees Celsius.

The report compares the impacts of warming at 1.5°C against 2°C across the planet - from ecosystems on land and in oceans to the health and well being of people - and finds universal benefits in the lower target, such as 0.1 meter less sea level rise that could mean 10 million less people were exposed to related risks.

The report warned that half a degree increase in global warming temperature is a big deal and can have catastrophic consequences which will be there for people to see in their current lifetimes. If the emissions of non-CO2 pollutants are not curbed, there is a 66% likelihood of surpassing the 1.5 °C threshold, regardless of reductions to carbon dioxide.

He admitted the report showed that "limiting warming to 1.5°C is barely feasible and every year we delay the window of feasibility halves".

"The IPCC report is very clear that government commitments are far from sufficient and will not achieve the Paris Agreement's warming limit - there needs to be a redoubled effort to increase the level of ambition for 2030", says Rueanna Haynes, SIDS climate advisor.

If the average global temperature temporarily exceeded 1.5C, additional carbon removal techniques would be required to return warming to below 1.5C by 2100.

Experts across the globe have put their collective heads together to deliver a landmark report on the potentially devastating impact of climate change - and their conclusions are not good news.

While the global average temperature is now at about 1 degree, some parts of the world are already experiencing 1.5 degree global warming.

"The next few years are probably the most important in our history", said Debra Roberts, an IPCC co-chair.

"Emissions would need to decline rapidly across all of society's main sectors, including buildings, industry, transport, energy, and agriculture, forestry and other land use", the report said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who is on a trip to India touting new infrastructure to ship more oil and gas overseas, said he will leave the findings of the IPCC report to the scientists.

The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

"The numbers they're touting demonstrate we can cut emissions cheaply, even as they claim we can't", he said.

The only regulations introduced by the former government involved coal-fired power plants.

  • Carolyn Briggs