The United Nations Climate Change Report Could Give Green Companies a Lift


That promise came with plans to cut emissions, but now the IPCC isn't sure we'll get the job done.

A much-anticipated report from the world's leading authorities on climate change has reignited a debate over the usefulness of the "carbon budget". And right now, we're not anywhere close to the path to make it happen.

Two decades. That's all the time world leaders have to reverse emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid inundating coastal cities, killing off coral reefs and their attendant marine wildlife, and potential food shortages, according to a new United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A direct result of the 2015 Paris Agreement, this latest report has been three whole years in the making, and points to "laws of chemistry and physics" which make a final shift (or rather, semi-permanent halt) in climate change a possibility.

It's a higher budget, though, than would be expected based on the methods used in the previous IPCC assessment report-akin to resetting the doomsday clock to "five minutes to midnight", according to Oliver Geden, a climate researcher at the German Institute for global and Security Affairs. "We must reduce emissions as quickly as possible to keep 1.5 deg C of warming within reach", said Mr Andrew Steer, president and chief executive of the Washington-based World Resources Institute. "And now more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters". "Even the scientists were surprised to see how much science was already there and how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2", Thelma Krug, vice-chair of the IPCC, told Reuters.

But that's not even the weirdest part of Gore's most recent overture to the public, begging them to make climate change a priority in upcoming elections. The risk to fisheries would be lower.

And by "minimum", we're talking about 90 per cent of coral reefs being destroyed instead of 100 per cent. Coral reefs would be devastated-about 70%-90% would be lost with a 1.5 degree increase; nearly all the world's reefs would be eviscerated if average temperatures rose by more than two degrees. Scientists say that mere 0.5-degree difference would mean saving massive amounts of fresh water in the Mediterranean area, averting the most catastrophic droughts and deadly heat waves, and sparing at least some of the world's coral reefs. If not, the researchers say, the threat to people, ecosystems and sustainable development will rise to irreversible levels.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would also give the world a better chance of avoiding major tipping points like the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It could prevent as many as 2.5 million square kilometers of permafrost from melting over the long term.

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However, they warn that the Liberal government's approach will undermine Canada's economic competitiveness and saddle consumers with higher costs.

Action in cities - which consume more than two-thirds of energy globally and account for about three-quarters of carbon emissions - are pivotal to meeting the target, said report author William Solecki, a professor at Hunter College-City University of NY.

Such a goal that would require trillions of dollars to achieve " "rapid and far-reaching" transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities", including using unproven technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the air. By lowering emissions and deploying carbon capture technology, we could possibly bring temperatures back down under the threshold.

This goal will require aggressive efforts by countries.

The EU is agreeing its position on climate change ahead of COP24.

And we're running out of time to thwart it.

"I just don't see the possibility of doing the one and a half" and even 2 degrees looks unlikely, said Appalachian State University environmental scientist Gregg Marland, who isn't part of the United Nations panel but has tracked global emissions for decades for the U.S. Energy Department.



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