One week ago today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their report on global warming with the long name of „Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty” (IPCC, 2018).
Summary for policymakers
The summary for policymakers contains the most important information the public needs to know. The report also states that the current weather extremes that we are experiencing are because we are already at a 1°C rise in global temperature compared to pre-industrial levels.
However, the scientist highlight very clearly the fact that we should not exceed the 1,5°C – line if we want to live in a more sustainable and fair world compared to the 2°C line. The sea level would rise approximately 10 cm less than with a 2°C rise but also the coral reefs would „only” decline by 70-90% compared to a complete extinction by exceeding 1,5°C. Furthermore, the Arctic sea would only experience one ice-free summer in a century rather than a least once in a decade (IPCC, 2018).
The report also examines ways how to change politics and behaviour in order to stay below the 1,5°C line. However, it clearly states that „rapid and far-reaching” transitions are necessary for many industries, such as land, energy and transport (IPCC, p2, 2018). The scientists agree, that „global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air” (IPCC, p2, 2018).
So, what’s next?
The IPCC worked out four different pathways to stay way below 2°C of which reforestation, a shift to electric transportation and adoption of carbon capture technology are essential to all. If we continue to live the way we live now, we will be heading for a 3°C in global warming, which will have disastrous consequences for both, living beings and the environment surrounding them (The Guardian, 2018).
It remains to be seen to what extent governments will adopt these pathways, especially in countries like the US, Brazil and oil-rich countries.
However, it does not only take politicians to change regulations. A change to the better needs serious effort at every level of society. Changing to electric cars, drastically cutting back on waste and a „less resource-intense diet” is a starting point (The Independent, 2018).
But far more important is the change in people’s mindsets. Many people need to understand that they need to change their attitude towards their lifestyle. Just bring your own shopping bags, take a walk or the bike instead of using the car every time you need to go somewhere. Try to reduce (or cut out completely) palm oil, meat and dairy and other foods that need intensive usage of land, housing conditions or processing. Maybe even try to adapt to a less wasteful and more minimalistic lifestyle.
We only have a few more years left to limit the effects of climate change. It is time to open our eyes and take the right action. Only by changing ourselves, we can change the world.
Gabbatiss, J. (2018) IPCC climate change report: What does it mean and how will it affect our lives?. 8th October. The Independent. [Online] [Accessed 14th October] https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-global-warming-ipcc-report-un-fossil-fuels-greenhouse-gas-co2-a8574731.html
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2018) Summary for policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by governments. 8th October, press release no. 2018/24/PR. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [Online] [Accessed 14th October] https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/session48/pr_181008_P48_spm_en.pdf
Watts, J. (2018) We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. 8th October. The Guardian. [Online] [Accessed 14th October] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report