'Unprecedented' climate steps are needed, United Nations says

Christopher Davidson
October 10, 2018

Well, it's time to buckle up folks because unless we take drastic action, and soon, catastrophe may be inevitable.

The IPCC suggests the transport carbon footprint could be reduced through people opting to use public transport auto sharing arrangements and hybrid or electric cars instead of planes and motor vehicles.

They say the global community should focus less on how much carbon can still be emitted and more on setting concrete timelines for transitioning to a net-zero carbon world. It concludes that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current pace, coastal flooding could become intense and droughts severe by 2040.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, revealed that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius "would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society", according to a statement announcing the climate change report. But the planet would remain under that 1.5-degree threshold.

Yesterday, the United Nations released a terrifying report about climate change, which basically said we've got around 12 years left to keep climate change to a minimum.

But the effects of not meeting the 1.5C target would mean huge changes to the world. These omissions may mislead world leaders into thinking they have more time to address the climate crisis, when in fact immediate actions are needed.

The new IPCC report underscores these uncertainties. In their conclusions, environment ministers recall the progress made in recent months by the European Union on legislation which delivers on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon would have to be taxed as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 (compared to $7 per ton suggested by the Trump administration).

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Swiftly reducing emissions - even with carbon removal - will also require unprecedented levels of global cooperation, a particular challenge as some national governments, like that in the United States, look increasingly inward. More than 90 scientists wrote the report, which is based on more than 6,000 peer reviews.

But these new values aren't watertight, either. But Monday's report comes amid a reactionary political climate.

The IPCC report is undeniably grim, but its authors state that the 1.5°C target can still be met if unprecedented, wide-ranging action is taken straight away.

At the same time, however, the Liberals are supporting major projects that will increase Canada's capacity to export oil and gas for decades, including expansion of the Trans Mountain crude pipeline and construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

These carbon dioxide scrubbing techniques would be particularly vital if the global temperature were to briefly peak above 1.5°C before being wrestled back down below the target by the end of the century. This timeline should be strict enough to work with any range of carbon budgets thought to be consistent with the 1.5 C goal.

"Scientists are increasingly aware that every half degree of warming matters", Chris Weber, WWF's global climate and energy lead scientist, said in a statement. For people, it would greatly reduce the risk of water shortages, food scarcity, and poverty related to climate change. "Those pathways, at least in the special report, do not change with the updated carbon budget, as the calculations were done before the carbon budget was revised". Per the IPCC, humans need to slash carbon output to 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and to straight-up zero by 2050. Exactly how much negative emission will be required depends on how quickly world leaders can cut their carbon output in the coming years. But news out Monday adds to growing evidence that it's becoming a long-risk factor that investors shouldn't ignore.

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