Climate change: Why 1.5 is the new magic number

A firefighter fights a blaze near Yosemite National Park in August

The CEO noted that the report is very clear in its confirmation that wide-ranging impacts of climate change will be much worse at 2° of warming than at 1.5°.

Another recent report from the consulting firm PwC makes it clear that even limiting warming to 2 degrees C will be a stretch: "There seems to be nearly zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees (the main goal of the Paris Agreement), though widespread use of carbon capture and storage technologies, including Natural Climate Solutions, may make this possible", it says. Human activity has warmed the world by 1°C over the pre-industrial level and with another half-degree rise, many regions will have warmer extreme temperatures, raising the frequency, intensity and amount of rain or severity of drought.

This is one of the key findings of a landmark new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN's body to assesses research on climate change.

According to the report, limiting global warming will require greener cities and more sustainable transportation industries.

Global Warming of 1.5°C will be a critical source of scientific data for the Katowice Climate Change Conference this coming December in Poland, three years after the historic 21 Conference of the Parties climate change summit held in Paris, France.

Limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 °C could also protect several hundred million people, including those living in some of the least developed countries, from slipping into poverty and disadvantage by 2050 due to climate-related risks, as would be the case under the 2°C scenario.

This target was long considered the threshold for the most unsafe effects of climate change, including the mass destruction of coral reefs, widespread food shortages, destructive wildfires and coastal flooding.

The report says the rate of warming caused by human activities is speeding up and that global emissions would need to fall by 45% by 2030 - twice as fast as previously envisaged.

The report suggests that coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all ( 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

"Limiting warming to (2.7 degrees) is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics", Jim Skea of Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report, said, "but doing so would require unprecedented changes".

Scientists predict that any higher than 1.5°C and the effects will be irreversible.

But the report said some measures, such as planting forests, bioenergy use or capturing and storing CO2, remained unproven on a large scale and carried some risks.

A morbid United Nations' report on climate change has given policymakers an inside look into what could be a catastrophic climate crisis by as soon as 2040.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, and created to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. But a lower temperature increase would allow humanity more precious time with which to adapt to the adverse conditions presented by climate change.

"In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord", he said at the time.

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