Stark warning says we have a decade to avoid catastrophic climate change

AFP  Getty Images- Getty Images

AFP Getty Images- Getty Images

A key question in the months preceding the report's release was whether the formidable target is still feasible at all. At 1.5 degrees, fewer species would go extinct. This would require a massive swing to renewable energy, with any residual emissions being scrubbed from the atmosphere using carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.

Delaying action on climate change "is something that is explicitly contradicted in the report", he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The science in the IPCC report on 1.5°C speaks for itself". So far, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that he's "not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that nonsense", while Deputy PM Michael McCormack described the landmark United Nations warning as "some sort of report" and said Australia will "absolutely" keep relying on coal-fired power.

The new IPCC report underscores these uncertainties. Europe's emissions and ESG reporting standards are tightening. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said. Depending on the way that global average temperatures are measured, the carbon budget could be as small as 580 billion tons for a 50 percent chance of success, or as large as 770 billion tons.

To provide sufficient incentive to reduce carbon emissions that quickly would require a carbon tax of $27,000, the report estimates-almost double the current price of emitting a ton of carbon under California's cap-and-trade program.

Around 6 percent of insects, 8 percent of plants, and 4 percent of vertebrates are projected to be negatively affected by global warming of 1.5°C, namely by shrinking their natural geographic range, compared with 18 percent of insects, 16 percent of plants and 8 percent of vertebrates for global warming of 2°C.

Gore's statement also seems at odds with the U.N.'s own conclusions, which downplay an increased risk of extreme weather as connected to climate change, and the "world's top scientists" actually suggested that the best approach to stemming global climate change was to "systematically disassemble capitalism", rendering technological advancement a thing of the past.

But these new values aren't watertight, either.

All in all, the carbon budget is a tricky concept, and one that even scientists are still working to refine.

The world needs to make decisions now for the future.

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"We have to live our lives in a way that makes a difference".

The new IPCC report generally takes this approach.

Ministers now face calls to replace the current target of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 with a zero-carbon target in line with the 1.5C goal. The National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton calculated that sea level rise caused by temperatures exceeding 1.5C would cost £10.7trillion a year by 2100.

A direct result of the 2015 Paris Agreement, this latest report has been three whole years in the making, and points to "laws of chemistry and physics" which make a final shift (or rather, semi-permanent halt) in climate change a possibility.

"The government will take into account. the recommendations of the [council] and. the IPCC's special report to draw up Hong Kong's long-term decarbonisation strategy up to 2050 by the end of 2019 or early 2020", the spokesman said. By the year 2030, global human-caused emissions of Carbon dioxide would need to fall by roughly 45 percent relative to 2010 levels.

But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field.

Faced with a major United Nations report that warns of floods, drought, extreme heat and increased poverty should the world not take radical action to address climate change, Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically reluctant to speak out.

"Every industrialized country and every emerging economy has to strengthen midterm climate targets considerably", he noted.

Whether the concept of a net-zero target will reappear in the IPCC's next assessment report-or in the global discussions in Poland this December-remains to be seen.

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