The report found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at their current rate, the earth's atmosphere will warm up by as much as 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels by 2040.
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a landmark report on Monday that laid out the potential effects of rising global temperatures on both the environment and society. "But it will require unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas".
"The coming period is critical".
A landmark report by the United Nations has warned that the world has just 12 years to halt global warming. Paris redefined this goal, demanding efforts to limit warming to well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5.
However, it does make clear the consequences of warming above that level: more heat waves, more severe rain and snow events, higher sea levels, damage to agriculture and displacement of millions of people.
Didier Roche, President of the EGU Climate: Past, Present and Future Division, highlighted the differences between the two global warming limits included in the Paris climate agreement as analysed in detail in SR15: "You might think that 1.5°C versus 2°C is a small difference". Denying the reality of climate change is not going to help anyone.
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EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas welcomed the report by the United Nations body, which provides policy-makers across the globe with a strong scientific basis for their efforts to modernise the economy, tackle climate change, promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty. 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. By 2100, global sea level rises would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C, and coral reefs would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (99%) would be lost with 2ºC.
To limit warming to 1.5 degrees would require a roughly fivefold increase in average annual investment in low-carbon energy technologies by 2050, compared with 2015.
Well, it will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented change across the whole of society, according to the report. We need to make to make major changes in transportation, buildings, industry, and how we use land. To get there, emissions would have to be cut by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, with further action required by 2050.
For those who believed limiting warming to 2°C was a bit ambitious, a 1.5°C target seems to be a tremendous stretch considering we're almost there. But the report warns that "the effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development".
"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 Portner, a German scientist who co-chaired one of the panel's working groups.
The new report will feed into a process called the 'Talanoa Dialogue, ' in which parties to the Paris accord will take stock of what has been accomplished over the past three years. The governments have set a deadline for themselves to finalise the agreement's implementation guidelines at COP24 in Katowice (Poland).
"The EU has been at the forefront of addressing the root causes of climate change and strengthening a concerted global response to it in the framework of the Paris Agreement", Cañete and Moedas said in a joint statement.