IPCC issue stark climate change warning
Published: 08 Oct 2018

Following three years of research and a week of debate between scientists and government officials, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels; and the reading is not particularly great.

The report begins by stating that global warming is "likely" to reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 "if it continues to increase at the current rate". Unfortunately, the world seems to be off-track in terms of tackling climate change which could actually result in higher levels of warming in the future if we're not careful.

Essentially, it could be our last chance to ensure that climate change influenced by human activity does not reach a level where the earth could be in real trouble. However, it will require real, significant and rapid investment alongside some large-scale changes from governments and individuals.

Even after doing all that - if we do all of that - we will still need technological development, advancement and deployment to ensure we capture carbon from the air.

The report estimates that limiting the global warming pathway to 1.5C will "involve the annual average investment...in the energy system of around 2.4 trillion USD". Although this is a huge amount of money, experts are urging people to see the wider context of that price. Dr Stephen Cornelius, former UK IPCC negotiator currently working with WWF, said that the costs and benefits should be weighed up. For example, cutting emissions hard and fast will result in high costs, but will be cheaper than removing carbon dioxide in the future. He added "The report also talks about the benefits as there is higher economic growth at 1.5 degrees than there is at 2C, and you don't have the higher risk of catastrophic impacts at 1.5 that you do at 2."

If the report is ignored and no action is taken, we could see the the coral reefs being wiped out entirely, which would have big implications for marine ecosystems. Furthermore, global-sea level will rise around 10cm if we get to 2C of warming, which doesn't sound a lot but will affect around 10 million people.

Dr Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC, said, "It is feasible if we all put our best foot forward, and that's a key message of this report. No-one can opt out anymore. We all have to fundamentally change the way we live our lives; we can't remain remote from the problem anymore. The report is very clear, this can be done, but it will require massive changes, socially and politically and accompanied by technological development."