Climate demonstration in Melbourne, Australia 8 December 2018. Photo: / Takver CC BY-SA

1.5°C is the new 2°C

In the wake of the IPCC publishing their 1.5°C report the global press calls for quick action.

The UK magazine Guardian Weekly highlighted the new IPCC 1.5°C report published on 8 October 2018 with the conclusion that “it is now clear that 1.5°C is the new 2°C. While 2°C was regarded as the threshold in the 1990s when dangerous climate change would occur, the summary of new scientific research comes to the judgement that this could happen at 1.5°C and above.” The Guardian Weekly adds that “climate scientists make it very clear that unless the planet manages to curtail global warming at 1.5°C – the bottom end of what was agreed in the Paris climate accords – then the impact on everything from sea levels to the survival of coral and insects will be far greater than anticipated. The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 °C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45 per cent by 2030 and come down to zero by 2050.”

The New York Times writes that “half a degree may not sound like much. But as the report details, even that much warming could expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.”

According to the Times of India, the IPCC concludes that “limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C is possible and calls for quick action”. The newspaper adds that the “report clearly shows how half a degree of warming makes a big difference, adversely impacting global population and overall ecosystem through intense heat waves, sea level rise, melting of Arctic, erratic rainfall, reduction of farm yield and vanishing of living species. In fact, limiting warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C could result in 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heat waves”.
The Times of India writes that the report claims it’s possible to meet the new warming target, provided nations together take “rapid and far-reaching” transitions over the next 10 to 20 years in land use, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities to cut emissions and reach “net zero” around 2050.

“The new report from the IPCC has served as a final warning that we must get our act together – now and quickly,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science Environment (CSE) while asking the global communities to build a coalition to support the massive transformation required to achieve the 1.5-degree target.

The IPCC’s report was accepted by all countries, including India. Though the United States, which moved to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, too accepted the report, it has not endorsed it.

“By refusing to endorse the findings of the IPCC’s 1.5 degree Celsius report, the US has again given a clear signal that it would continue with its climate-regressive agenda, which includes obstructing the work of the UNFCCC and promoting fossil fuels like coal and gas,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy DG of the CSE.

China Daily says that the approved report is calling for efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C, instead of 2 degrees above the pre-industrial level, in order to avoid extreme climate impacts such as drought and floods around the world and that it would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society in order to reach that goal. China Daily then added that the report’s stark warning had not moved the Trump administration, and in an interview with The Associated Press published two days after the release of the 1.5°C report, Trump said he is not willing to “sacrifice the economic wellbeing of our country for something that nobody really knows”. The White House clearly has a new talking point for denial these days. Speaking after visiting the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in Georgia, Vice-President Mike Pence said the causes of climate change have “yet to be seen”. “This is nothing but a lie told in front of those who felt the hurricane’s wrath,” writes China Daily. “It betrayed the conclusion by most climate scientists that warming waters are connected to the strong storms. A NASA report found that 97 per cent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.

The US is by far the largest carbon polluter in history. It is now the second-largest carbon emitter in the world after China, but its per capita emissions are still more than twice that of China. And it is irresponsible to say the least for the current US administration to choose to absent the country from the global fight against climate change. ”

The Independent reported just before the publishing of the 1.5°C report that French President Emmanuel Macron promised that France won’t sign trade deals with countries that do not comply with the Paris accord. This is something that other countries should insist on when they go into trade negotiations with the Trump administration. Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will no longer accept “commercial agreements” with countries that do not “respect” the Paris Climate Accord during a fiery speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The French president called for the upholding of trade rules that “guarantee fair competition on equal footing” after a meeting with Trump. Mr Macron appeared defiant towards Mr Trump, suggesting he’d no longer negotiate trade deals with the US after its withdrawal from the climate agreement last year. The US is now reportedly the only nation in the world which remains opposed to the Paris Agreement, after Mr Trump decided to pull out of the accord in 2017.

Just a week after the release of the 1.5°C report the Guardian Weekly commented again on the report, this time with the message that “last week the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change published a devastating report on the need for humans to take action to save the planet within the next 12 years. A week or so later and the biggest news story of our age has drifted off the news agenda”.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape

The Guardian, 8 October 2018, We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN,
New York Times, 7 October 2018, Why Half a Degree of Global Warming Is a Big Deal,
The Times of Inida, 9 October 2018, IPCC: Limiting warming to 1.5 degree C possible, calls for quick action,
China Daily, 20 October 2018,  Leverage trade deals for US return to climate accord,
The Independent, 25 September 2018, Macron rejects trade deals with countries outside Paris climate accord,


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