The world’s leading scientists issued a harsh warning on climate change. Their United Nations report predicts a ‘climate change catastrophe’ if nothing is done. It also warns the world could face severe weather changes and food shortages by 2040.
CGTN U.N. correspondent Liling Tan filed this report from New York.
According to the new widely-cited climate study, the world is warming at a faster rate than previously thought, and drastic measures are needed to cool it down.
The report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the 2-degree target set by the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 does not go far enough. Instead, the world needs to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees within 12 years.
“One of the major issues that there will be 420 million people less suffering because of climate change if we would be able to limit the warming to 1.5-degree level,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “We have certain areas in the world which are extremely sensitive: there are small island states, Mediterranean region and also sub-Saharan Africa is already suffering and will suffer more in the future.”
The Earth has already warmed by one degree Celsius, higher than pre-industrial levels. That means there’s only about half a degree to go, and that could separate hope from catastrophe caused by extreme weather, wildfires, droughts and floods, food scarcity and widespread poverty.
The study involved 91 scientists from 40 countries analyzing over 6,000 scientific sources. It found that the difference of half a degree could halve the rate of habitat loss for animals, insects and plants. It could also significantly reduce coral reef destruction and slow down the melting of Arctic sea ice.
The authors of the report say that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is technically possible, but may be politically challenging. Major greenhouse gas emitting countries aren’t on board. The United States, for example, has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, and Brazil may elect a president who plans to do the same.
Climate scientists say deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and more investment in clean energy ( i.e. a whopping $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year for the next 17 years) is needed to put the world on the right track.
“This is our challenge. We produce today 85-percent of the global energy based on fossil energy, coal, oil and gas and only 15-percent based on non-carbon sources, nuclear hydro and renewable,” Taalas said.
The scientists say it is now up to governments to decide whether to act.
David Livingston on UN report predicting ‘climate catastrophe’
CGTN’s Mike Walter talks with David Livingston, deputy director of Climate and Advanced Energy at the Atlantic Council, on a new U.N. report urging dramatic action to curb greenhouse emissions.