IPCC report: Delay on climate action will be catastrophic
Oct 03, 2018

IPCC report: Delay on climate action will be catastrophic

By EJF Staff

The urgency and absolute necessity of keeping global warming to the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement was underlined this week by the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2°C of warming can no longer be regarded as a safe or acceptable limit, the report shows.

EJF calls on governments to take immediate action to tackle climate change with far greater vigour, economic commitment and urgency as the only way to prevent may millions more victims of its impacts.

Under 2°C of warming, the report says, 10 million more people would be at risk of floods and storm surges, in addition to those who have already been forced to abandon their homes because of climate change. The Earth will also surpass several important ‘tipping points’, with irreversible consequences. For example, the loss of Arctic sea ice and polar ice sheets would reduce the Earth’s ability to reflect heat back into space – from 50% of radiation reflected to just 10% – greatly exacerbating the planet’s warming.

We are already at 1°C of warming above pre-industrial levels, the report confirmed, and the impacts are increasingly, and worryingly clear. Storms, floods and droughts are forcing people from their homes around the world. The unprecedented heatwave that baked the Northern Hemisphere this year saw Sweden forced to appeal for international aid to help deal with wildfires that had spread into the Arctic Circle.

The report also states that it is still – just – within our ability to limit warming to 1.5°C – but we must act now.

We have the tools and technology, the researchers assert, and we can achieve this if governments reduce our carbon emissions on a wide, cross-sector scale, without delay. Switching from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources, maintaining our natural carbon sinks – forests, oceans, mangroves and more – and strengthening our 2030 climate targets are crucial actions.

This report firmly underlines the already-established scientific consensus – that warming in excess of 1.5°C would be catastrophic for people, the ecosystems upon which we depend and the health of our economy, let alone the rest of the planet – but also that we are entirely capable of stopping it if we use the technologies we have.

The report is meaningless without action. EJF urges governments to act now, to fully implement the Paris Agreement and enforce legally binding, international fulfilment of more ambitious climate targets.

It is clear from the findings of this report that destructive 2°C warming is not inevitable, but a political choice, and one for which future generations will hold us responsible.