Today there was some big news as the IPCC Global Warming Special Report 2018 landed.
What is it?
The 2018 IPCC report is the most up-to-date, comprehensive explanation of the science of climate change and the future of Earth. It has 91 lead authors and 133 contributing authors, from 40 countries. They assessed 30,000 scientific papers and made over 42,000 comments during the review process.
It warns that Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. At present, we are on track for a 3-4°C temperature rise.
What is the bottom line?
We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by the middle of this century to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Even if we cut all emissions today, we are still set for a temperature rise, because the warming effect of increasing carbon dioxide takes decades to influence the planet’s temperature: to limit to 1.5 °C warming the planet’s emissions must be cut to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.
Why all the fuss about 1.5°C?
- “Adaptation is expected to be more challenging for ecosystems, food and health systems at 2°C of global warming than for 1.5°C”
- “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.“
Did you miss that? The price we will pay in messing this up is measured in the lives of several hundred million people.
The IPCC recommends investing a lot of money in mitigation methods: around 2.5% of global GDP for two decades.
What actions can I take?
- WWF Environmental Footprint Tool – Work out how many Earths are needed for your consumption patterns, it takes under 5 minutes and will get you thinking
- Think seriously about meals and travel- learn some more vegetarian recipes to reduce your meat intake. Educate yourself about the true costs of flying (watch this space!)
- Donate to Cool Earth – Trees are hugely efficient carbon stores, with an acre of tropical rainforest storing 260 tonnes of carbon (you’d have to recycle four million aluminium cans to have the same impact as protecting an acre). They are also home to wildlife, essential in the global water cycle, reduce soil erosion and essential for indigenous cultures around the world. Several pieces of research continue to point to rainforest being key in the future of carbon mitigation.