Climate Change Report Warns Rapid, Far-Reaching and Unprecedented Change Needed

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its special report on global warming today, at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C warns that we are already seeing the affect of an increase in global temperatures of 1oC compared to pre-industrial data.

The report says that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. But it also says if global warming is restricted to 1.5°C rather than 2°C it could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society with clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems.

The report will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice.”

Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” says Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Carbon emissions
The report finds that global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

“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 Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

The IPCC says a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C, or more.

“The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change. The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

 Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

Prof Richard Betts, Met Office

Commenting, the Met Office’s Professor Richard Betts said: “Limiting the rise in warming to 1.5°C avoids many, but not all of the worst climate impacts seen at 2°C or above. For example, vulnerability to food insecurity increases in many countries as our world warms. An increase in global temperature is projected to cause more flooding in some areas and more drought in others. Both increases and decreases in rainfall are generally larger at 2°C global warming than at 1.5°C.”

 

Solar Trade Association’s Chief Executive, Chris Hewett

The Solar Trade Association’s Chief Executive Chris Hewett said, “The IPCC report today amplifies already very widespread calls for the UK Government to get behind low-cost solar and wind.

“The message couldn’t be clearer: time is running out. Our industry stands ready to roll out solutions which are extremely popular with the public, and no longer require subsidy, but Government has put too many barriers in the way.

“Let’s be clear, a smart, flexible, renewables pathway is now the cheapest pathway. All we need to deliver that is fair tax treatment, fair market access and level playing fields. We’ve been repeating this message for years  – action is now needed.”

“At UKGBC we know that built environment businesses can, and must, lead the charge against climate change.”

Julie Hirigoyen, UK Green Building Council Chief Executive

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) Chief Executive, Julie Hirigoyen, said: “This report from the IPCC is a wake-up call for governments and businesses across the globe.

“This latest IPCC report points to the urgency and scale of action required to achieve this, which should be keenly reviewed by every single board room. There is no doubt that business leaders need to make bold decisions today to transition to a low/no carbon economy that can sustain future generations.

“The construction and property industry in the UK is an economic juggernaut, and our buildings account for approximately 30% of carbon emissions. It is also the industry with the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions so it will be a vital catalyst for change in the wider economy.

“At UKGBC we know that built environment businesses can, and must, lead the charge against climate change. Our Advancing Net Zero programme is a collaborative initiative to drive the transition to a net zero carbon built environment by 2050 – which would be commensurate with the 1.5°C limit. Only by all working together to effect change at speed and at scale will we stand any chance of rising to the challenge outlined today.”

“It is clear that unprecedented changes are needed to curb this catastrophic rise in global warming.”
Colin Goodwin, Technical Director, BSRIA

Colin Goodwin, BSRIA Technical Director

Colin Goodwin, Technical Director, BSRIA, said: “In recent years, the UK government expanded offshore wind power and had become the first developed country to set an end date for the use of coal.

“But there has been mounting scepticism about the UK’s own commitment to standing behind these words, as a result of a series of political policy u-turns on climate change – most of them in the built environment.

“Governments must turn global ambition into national reality and industry will want to see domestic policies that demonstrate commitment to this goal.

“BSRIA is committed to supporting the UK government in reducing carbon and, indeed, its position on this. Is now the time to call on government for legislation to go further? Or offer incentives for green and clean technologies?

“Global warming is a real problem. As an industry we have the skills, technology and the desire to make a difference.”

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