In a new report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn that the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC rather than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels could have a dramatic effect on society.

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Despite 1.5ºC being declared a safe limit for natural ecosystems, the IPCC say that an increase in temperature of this magnitude would require the adoption of far-reaching and unprecedented changes across all aspects of society.

The report has been compiled by 91 authors and editors from 40 countries in response to an invite from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC.”

Hoesung Lee, IPCC

Co-chair Panmao Zhai says one of the key points to emerge from the report is that we are already seeing the effects of 1°C of global warming in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.

According to the report, limiting the warming to 1.5ºC, would mean that by 2100, the rise in sea level would be 10cm lower than if the warming was limited to 2ºC.

The likelihood of an Arctic sea with no ice in the summer would be once per century rather than once per decade and there would be a 70% to 90% decline in coral reefs rather than a decline of more than 99%.

However, achieving the 1.5°C limit would require “rapid and far-reaching” changes in land, industry, transport and buildings, says the report.

By 2030, global carbon dioxide emissions would need to be 45% lower than 2010 levels and reach a “net zero” by 2050.

Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes."

Jim Skea, IPCC Co-chair

Debra Roberts, also from the IPCC, says the decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone and that this report provides policy makers and practitioners with the data they need to make decisions to tackle climate change whilst taking into consideration local context and people’s needs.

The next few years are probably the most important in our history."

Jim Skea, IPCC Co-chair

Source: Global warming likely to impact all aspects of society