Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations scientific and intergovernmental body, published the summary for policymakers of its Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15) report. This special report found that limiting the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would require urgent, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in society. But, according to the report, making these changes would also bring benefits as limiting warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C would reduce the impacts of rising sea levels, lower the likelihood of an ice-free Arctic in summer, and limit coral-reef decline alongside many other negative consequences of increased temperatures.
European Geosciences Union (EGU) President Jonathan Bamber said: "EGU concurs with, and supports, the findings of the SR15 that action to curb the most dangerous consequences of human-induced climate change is urgent, of the utmost importance and the window of opportunity extremely limited."
Olaf Eisen, President of the EGU Cryospheric Sciences Division, said: "With IPCC AR4 [Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change] 2007 it was evident that humanity still had the opportunity to avoid, or turn back in the mid-term, climate change. It is now clear that we lost more than 10 years already and the question is about how disastrous will it be in the end."
Annica Ekman, President of the EGU Atmospheric Sciences Division, noted: "If anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue at the same rate, we will most likely reach a warming of 1.5°C as early as 2030 and no later than 2052. Global emissions of greenhouse gases have to approach zero already in 2050 to avoid the most harmful consequences."
Didier Roche, President of the EGU Climate: Past, Present and Future Division, highlighted the differences between the two global warming limits included in the Paris climate agreement as analysed in detail in SR15: "You might think that 1.5°C versus 2°C is a small difference. But for nearly every component of the climate system, the SR15 report shows that limiting the warming to 1.5°C will make our life and our children's life easier when it comes to mitigation and adaptation. A matter where clear and ambitious decisions are needed."
The report was based on over 6000 peer-reviewed scientific studies and was compiled by 91 authors and review editors, many of whom part of the EGU community. The summary for policymakers issued yesterday was discussed and approved by representatives of all 195 countries.