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Trump silent as the United Nations warns of climate change catastrophe

10 October 2018

That means trying to limit the increase in the average global ground temperature to 1.5 degrees C, rather than 2 C as specified in the Paris climate change accord.

This target was long considered the threshold for the most risky effects of climate change, including the mass destruction of coral reefs, widespread food shortages, destructive wildfires and coastal flooding. "The 30 years of success of the Montreal Protocol should inspire us to take still stronger actions, and to use additional tailor-made agreements to address specific business sector emissions, with the full engagement of industry".

The report, which was authored by 91 scientists and review editors from 40 countries, cites over 6,000 scientific references, and represents the work of thousands of experts and government employees.

"The IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system".

Average global temperatures are now 1C above pre-industrial levels, and are likely to increase 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 under current trajectories, the report says. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop.

In reality, it seems far more likely that the world will "overshoot" the 1.5 degree mark, causing irreversible harm. He says preventing the world temperature from rising by one-half degree Celsius would make a huge difference in the well-being of the planet. Trillions of dollars will soon be invested in new infrastructure; if we make the wrong choices, they'll be locked in, according to the same recent report. But the planet would remain under that 1.5-degree threshold.

In 2010, global negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) since pre-industrial times.

The Kigali Amendment, by avoiding the equivalent of up to 90 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide by 2050, could be "perhaps the single most significant contribution to keeping warming well below 2C, aiming for the still safer 1.5 C", Zaelke told the Guardian.

Greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050.

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Doing that would require an immediate, massive, coordinated transformation of the global economic system - especially the energy system.

It will be one of the main items discussed at a global conference in Poland in December, when governments will review the Paris Agreement (which the USA withdrew from in June 2017).

We are nowhere near reaching the target to limit average global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and the world is on track to be 3C warmer.

Decades of awareness, arguments and alarming sci-fi films later, the world is finally catching up on how actually bad it would be if the global temperature were to budge up by a couple of degrees.

Its benefits would include lowering the rise in global sea level by 10 cm, the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer once a century compared with at least once per decade and limiting the decline of coral reefs to 70-90% instead of 99%. Most coral reefs will die, which could trigger rippling effects throughout the oceans.

That could reduce flooding and give the people that inhabit the world's coasts, islands and river deltas time to adapt to climate change.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna believes the report is another wake-up call that underscores why her government is pricing carbon and introducing regulations for the country's biggest emitters.

Chandra Bhushan, the deputy director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, "Though it will be very hard in the current global economic system to limit warming to 1.5°C, it is not impossible".

The outcome will determine whether "my grandchildren would get to see lovely coral reefs", Princeton's Oppenheimer said.

Trump silent as the United Nations warns of climate change catastrophe