The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that a global temperature rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is approaching.
Climate crisis symptoms could be irreversible without urgent intervention.
The IPCC’s ‘devastating’ new report – which details how climate breakdown is impacting the world – is its most comprehensive assessment to date.
The report was put together by 234 scientists from 65 countries. They reviewed more than 14,000 scientific papers.
It revealed that ‘it is more likely than not’ that global heating will hit 1.5C within the next 20 years, which is sooner than previously predicted.
The Paris Agreement cautioned against these figures in 2015. The legally binding treaty sees 191 Parties (190 countries plus the European Union) pledging to reduce their emissions.
It’s part of the Agreement’s goal of limiting global heating to ‘well below’ 2C compared to pre-industrial levels. Ideally, global warming would not exceed 1.5C.
Why does a temperature rise of 1.5C matter?
The impacts of the climate emergency become more frequent and more severe should we reach a global temperature rise of 1.5C.
At 1.5C, some climate crisis symptoms, like global sea level rise, could be ‘irreversible for centuries to millennia’, the report reads. Arctic land regions would see their cold extremes warm by 5.5C (9.9F).
Extreme heatwaves, water availability, food security, species loss, fires, ocean dead zones, droughts, floods, and economic growth would also worsen at 1.5C warming.
We are currently at around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. But it should be noted that warming occurs at differing speeds around the world.In fact, more than one-fifth of humans live in regions with warming greater than 1.5C in at least one season, NASA highlights. Climate risks typically impact disadvantaged people the most.
‘Nobody is safe’
Inger Andersen is the executive director of the UN Environment Programme. Today she told the IPCC press conference that the world has not responded strongly enough.
“Nobody is safe and it’s getting worse faster. We must treat climate change as an immediate threat,” she said.
“It’s time to get serious because every tonne of CO2 adds to global warming.”
According to Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological Organisation, the world’s warming could reach 2.3C in the next 80 years.
He added that there is still time to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but only with immediate action.
IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair, Valérie Masson-Delmotte, said the ‘role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed’.
And the effects are rolling out at an unprecedented rate. Atmospheric C02 concentrations were higher than ever since at least 2 million years in 2019. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide were also higher than at any other time in the last 800,000 years.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the report was ‘a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable’.
Read more about what you can do to fight the climate crisis here.