Temperatures could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius as soon as 2030 if global warming continues at its current pace and the world fails to take rapid and unprecedented measures to stem the increase, experts warned in a landmark United Nations report on Monday.
The report is seen as the main scientific guide for government policymakers on how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is to be discussed at the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December.
The world has reached a fork in the road with two paths ahead: a planet that's 2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels and a planet that's 1.5°C warmer.
"And now more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters", Krug said.
However, keeping global warming below this level will require "annual average investment needs in the energy system of around $2.4 trillion (around €20.8 trillion)" between 2016 and 2035, according to the report. Analyzing hundreds of research papers and computer models on warming trends, the panel said it would take "rapid and far-reaching" actions in land use, energy, industrial emissions and transportation to avoid an increase of more than two degrees celsius in average global temperatures.
The report, which was authored by 91 scientists and review editors from 40 countries, cites over 6,000 scientific references, and represents the work of thousands of experts and government employees.
The lower target would also reduce species loss and extinction and the impact on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems, the report said.
Making the needed emissions changes "is within the scope of what humans can achieve", said Hans-Otto Portner, a German climate scientist and IPCC report co-chair. Any additional emissions would require removing Carbon dioxide from the air.
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This target was long considered the threshold for the most risky effects of climate change, including the mass destruction of coral reefs, widespread food shortages, destructive wildfires and coastal flooding. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C.
Countries will need to bring down their greenhouse gas to about half of 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by about 2050.
"Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics", said Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group dealing with the mitigation of climate change. Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.
These are just a few examples taken from a depressingly long list of climate change threats that would be made significantly more risky if the temperature were to rise by 2°C or beyond by the end of the century.
But they asked the IPCC to complete a report on the feasibility to limiting hikes following a request from small island nations. "In totality, how the rest of the world handles the climate rogue behaviour of the Trump administration will decide whether the world meets the 1.5°C goal or not".
RealClimateScience.com's Tony Heller ticked off past failed predictions of global-warming disaster, such as a 1989 U.N. warning that "entire nations could be wiped from the face of the earth" by rising seas unless global warming was reversed by 2000.
The Scottish government published its draft Climate Change Bill earlier this year, which upped a 2050 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 80% to 90% against 1990 levels.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has delivered an ultimatum of sorts on the fate of the planet with regard to global warming.
An author of the recent report, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the United States red-flagged several findings of the scientific summary for policymakers, but finally all nations endorsed it.