Environment

World faces 'now or never' chance to keep global warming within 1.5C, IPCC warns

Greenhouse gas emissions must fall by almost half by 2030 if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, a new IPCC report has warned.

Homes flooded in Germany

Without rapid action, the world could miss its chance to act on climate change, the report warned. (Image: Pixabay)

The world faces a “now or never” chance to limit global warming to 1.5C and keep climate change within manageable limits, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned.

The IPCC’s latest report, focusing on how global warming can be limited, has said that global heating could reach 3C by 2100 if rapid action is not taken immediately. 

Beyond 1.5C of heating many impacts of climate change are likely to become irreversible. 

Speaking at a press conference as the report was released, UN Secretary General António Guterres called the latest report a “catalogue of shame” and accused world leaders of “lying” over promises to address climate change.

Though the report said it was now “almost inevitable” that temperatures would surpass the 1.5C limit agreed at the Paris Conference of Parties in 2015, it said there was still a chance to keep warming within the limit with “immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors”.

Some of the key findings in the report were:

  • In 2010-2019 average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed
  • Investment in the shift to a low-carbon world is currently around six times lower than what’s required
  • Limiting warming to around 1.5C will require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030
  • Methane emissions must be reduced by a third to keep global warming within reasonable limits
  • Tree-planting alone will not be sufficient to capture carbon, and industrial carbon capture technologies will now be required to limit global warming
  • Coal must be effectively phased out to stay within 1.5C, with current planned fossil fuel infrastructure incompatible with staying within 1.5C

The report is the third and final in the IPCC’s comprehensive review of climate science, and could be the last delivered while the planet still has a chance to avert climate catastrophe. 

The report’s focus is “mitigation”, which refers to measures countries around the world need to take to limit further global warming and reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

Previous reports outlined “adaptation” – how the world can adjust to climate-related changes – and the physical science around climate change, outlining current risks. 

The report stressed that humanity has the tools available to achieve a emissions reduction of half by 2030, but that the next few years will be the last chance to do this. 

“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. 

“I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective.  If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”

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