Climate Change : The Earth’s climate is a complex system that is impacted by a variety of factors, including human activities that result in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions have been driving the warming of the planet, with the global average temperature already having risen by approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the pre-industrial era.
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, established the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, it set an even more ambitious target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. This target is particularly important because it would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, particularly for vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
However, the latest scientific assessment ( I.e., IPCC’s new 2023 report) shows that we are currently on track to warm the planet above 1.5 degrees Celsius by the 2030s, unless significant action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the impacts of climate change will continue to intensify and affect the planet and its inhabitants.
“In response to the findings, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says that all countries should bring forward their net zero plans by a decade. These targets are supposed to rapidly cut the greenhouse gas emissions that warm our planet’s atmosphere.”
“There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. Even in the near term, global warming is more likely than not to reach 1.5C even under the very low greenhouse gas scenario,” the report states.
“If we aim for 1.5C and achieve 1.6C, that is still much much better than saying, it’s too late, and we are doomed and I’m not even trying,” Dr Friederike Otto, from Imperial College, a member of the core writing team for this report said.
So, what would it mean to have the Earth warm above 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 2030s?
At this level of warming, we can expect more frequent and severe heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires, leading to crop failures and food shortages. Coastal cities and low-lying areas will experience more frequent and intense flooding and sea-level rise, resulting in the displacement of millions of people. Additionally, extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons will become more frequent and intense, resulting in loss of life, property damage, and economic disruptions.
A 1.5 degree warming will also have devastating impacts on ecosystems, with coral reefs, forests, and other important habitats being threatened with extinction. This will have significant consequences for the billions of people who rely on these ecosystems for their livelihoods, as well as for the global biodiversity.
However, the impacts of a 1.5 degree warming will not be evenly distributed. Communities in developing countries, indigenous peoples, and low-income communities will be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, exacerbating existing inequalities and injustices.
”Small islands in the Pacific are some of the countries expected to be worst hit by climate change.
“Responding to the report / recent assessments, the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru said:
“While our people are being displaced from their homes and climate commitments go unmet, the fossil fuel industry is enjoying billions in profits. There can be no excuses for this continued lack of action.” – according to the BBC at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-65000182.amp
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, urgent and ambitious action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a more sustainable and equitable economy. This includes investing in renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable agriculture and land use practices. It also means implementing policies and measures that support vulnerable communities and ensure a just transition to a low-carbon future.
“The remaining carbon budget in opening new fossil fuel infrastructure is certainly not compatible with the 1.5C target.”
The IPCC’s new report / assessment argues strongly that going past 1.5C will not be the end of the world as this may only be a “temporary overshoot”.
The authors say that they are optimistic that dramatic changes can be achieved rapidly, pointing to the massive falls in the price of energy made from solar and wind.” – according the BBC at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-65000182.amp
To conclude, a 1.5 degree warming above pre-industrial levels in the 2030s would have significant and far-reaching consequences for the planet and its inhabitants. However, we still have the opportunity to take action and mitigate these impacts. It is up to all of us to work together and make the necessary changes to secure a sustainable and equitable future for ourselves and future generations.