World to Write Rulebook for Climate Action
A major goal of that agreement, made in December three years ago, is to keep global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial average. As of last year, the planet stood at 1.0°C (1.8°F) warmer.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's top authority on the subject, produced a report for use at the meeting. The report focuses on the 1.5°C goal.
Effects of Warming
Effects of warming as we go from present to 1.5°C warmer, and then to 2.0°C, include ever higher risks to society. From the IPCC report:
B.1. Climate models project robust differences in regional climate characteristics between present-day and global warming of 1.5°C, and between 1.5°C and 2°C (3.6°F). These differences include increases in: mean temperature in most land and ocean regions (high confidence), hot extremes in most inhabited regions (high confidence), heavy precipitation in several regions (medium confidence), and the probability of drought and precipitation deficits in some regions (medium confidence).
B.3. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.
Climate Action Needed
From Inside Climate News:
To keep warming under 1.5°C, countries will have to cut global CO2 emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050, the report found, re-affirming previous conclusions about the need to end fossil fuel burning. Short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, will have to be significantly reduced as well.
[T]o keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report says, we'll also have to figure out how to undo some of the damage that's already been done.
"Given our current knowledge, we can't get to 1.5 degrees without removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it," said Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute.
One political problem in making an effective climate action rulebook is the United States. The country is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gas, but its president, Donald Trump, has announced his intention to withdraw the country from the Paris Climate Agreement. Also, he has pursued policy to worsen the climate crisis. But at the just-concluded G20 economic meeting, all 19 other countries affirmed their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and support for the meeting in Katowice.
Further into the Minefield
"Currently, we are on pace to blow past 1.5 degrees Celsius in a couple decades," said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann. Even under the current base-case scenario, with the emissions cuts pledged in Paris, the world is on track to warm between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius, he said.
"Every half-degree matters, and 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5C warming shouldn't be thought of as cliffs we walk off. A better analogy is a minefield. The further out on to that minefield we go, the more explosions we are likely to set off," he said.
Christopher Weber, global lead scientist for climate and energy for the World Wildlife Fund, said negotiators in Poland should focus on the underlying science.
"This is not a political negotiation, it's a science report. We're already seeing impacts like super storms, wildfires and heat waves from 1 degree of warming," he said. "This report underscores that many of the impacts we thought we would see at 2 degrees we will see sooner, and they may be unstoppable above that."
Image: Kartowice; Wikipedia
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