One of the key goals of the accord was to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, and to attempt a more aspirational goal of containing the rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century. But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: "that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution". The Arctic, which would be ice-free about once per century at 1.5 degrees of temperature rise, would be ice-free once per decade at 2 degrees.
"In this sense, a successful outcome in Katowice will be a first and most crucial step towards achieving the Paris Agreement's goals of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and pursuing efforts towards 1.5 degree celsius", said the UNFCCC in a statement.
Developing nations and least developed countries have been asking developed nations, particularly the United States, to take historical and moral responsibility for being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters.
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That promise came with plans to cut emissions, but now the IPCC isn't sure we'll get the job done. In 2017, the Donald Trump administration said it will withdraw from the Paris agreement but it can not do that before 2020 according to the terms of the agreement. "Over 187 cities globally participate in that symbolic gesture of switching off your lights for that one hour, to say I really care about this and I want to be part of the solution", Ms Richter said.
Global net human-caused Carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050, says the report. This means any remaining emissions would need to be removed by planting forests, or using carbon capture and storage technology, where emissions from power plants and industry are captured and stored deep underground.
"While the pace of change that would be required to limit warming to 1.5°C can be found in the past, there is no historical precedent for the scale of the necessary transitions, in particular in a socially and economically sustainable way", the report continues.
M Rajeevan, secretary, ministry of earth sciences (MoES), says, "It's a hard target that requires all countries to come on board and make unprecedented changes but it's not impossible".
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Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.
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As that would be an "unprecedented" rate of decline, it is more likely the world will overshoot the target, then try to return to it by sucking carbon from the air, scientists said.
Global warming of 1.5°C may force many marine species to relocate to higher altitudes and deal a blow to many ecosystems. However, Washington did not obstruct the report, as some had expected.
The Washington Post: The World Has Just Over A Decade To Get Climate Change Under Control, U.N. Scientists Say - "The radical transformation also would mean that, in a world projected to have more than 2 billion additional people by 2050, large swaths of land now used to produce food would instead have to be converted to growing trees that store carbon and crops designated for energy use". That will cause coastlines to become inundated and storms more severe, intensifying poverty in coastal regions and islands, particularly in the tropics.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Chair Hoesung Lee, center, speaks during a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018.
But success "depends on political leadership", he added.
Rajeevan says India is already experiencing extreme weather events; the unprecedented rains that triggered this year's Kerala floods being an example.