Global warming temperature targets in jeopardy, U.N. draft report warns

15 February 2018

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Hunger, migration and conflict will all increase if a crucial target to reduce global warming is missed, Climate Home News reported on Tuesday, citing a U.N. draft report the online publication obtained before its scheduled release in September.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries made a pact to try and hold a global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The leaked draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) examines the potential for meeting those targets. In their assessment, the authors of the report forecast that a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature will occur in the 2040s, but that parts of the globe are expected to pass that mark earlier, putting fragile ecosystems at risk, according to the climate news website.

“Scenarios that give a 66 percent chance of holding temperature rise below 1.5C throughout this century are ‘already out of reach,’ the climate news report adds, citing the draft summary. “That leaves a narrow path to walk to stay within the 1.5C threshold, or the prospect of overshooting and using negative emissions to restore the balance by 2100.”

Given that prospect, the draft report, currently open for expert review, urges better international collaboration, removing institutional barriers to action, and implementing far-thinking innovation, Climate Home News says.  Otherwise, “while temperature rise may be reversible, some impacts are not.”

CRITICAL CONSEQUENCES

“At 1.5C, tropical reefs are at ‘high risk’ of no longer being dominated by corals,” Climate Home News reports. “The Arctic could become nearly ice-free in September. There will be ‘fundamental changes in ocean chemistry’ that could take millennia to reverse.”

Such warming is also linked to a range of disruptions caused by collapsing ecosystems, extreme weather events and rising seas. More intense storms, drought, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding will directly affect coastal communities and those living in poverty, projections indicate.

Hitting the 2 degree Celsius notch exacerbates the risk of lower crop yields, species extinction and infectious diseases, increasing the threat of hunger, migration and conflict, Climate Home News states.

An extra 10 centimeters of sea level rise is predicted this century in a 2 degree Celsius increase scenario, increasing the risk of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets collapsing over the long term, the climate news website reports.

Already many developing nations are confronting climate change and related disruption. Prolonged drought in the Sahel, for instance, has contributed to conflict over water use and grazing, food and public health emergencies, and subsequent mass migration, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Food Policy Research Institute .  

Eating less meat, using energy sparingly and forgoing private cars, are all recommended, according to Climate Home News, adding that the report states that institutional barriers to action like public attitudes, lack of resources or special interests must be addressed.

The draft report, which may include further studies to be published by mid-May, could still undergo major changes, Climate Home News says.

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