Scientists are sounding more desperate than ever. In its Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed the dire situation of climate change and called for a complete end to the use of fossil fuels by 2100.
IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri explained that if humanity was to keep the global climate change under two degrees Celsius, major changes would have to start immediately.
“We have little time before the window of opportunity to stay within the 2C of warming closes. To keep a good chance of staying below the 2C, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, and falling to zero or below by 2100.”
To put it another way, the report explains that if humanity can keep emissions below one trillion tons of carbon dioxide in the near future, there’s a 66 percent change of keeping climate change below two degrees Celsius.
Still, that may be difficult as people have already emitted over half that amount, mostly in the last few decades.
The report concludes that if humanity stays at its current rate of emission, global temperatures will rise by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Any warming above four degrees carries risks of substantial species extinctions and large-scale food shortages.
The IPCC goes on to admit that mitigating the harm from climate change carries its own economic costs, but that price is low compared to the damage of a changing climate.
The climate change report also says it is 95–100 percent sure that humans are contributing to climate change, mostly through burning fossil fuels.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, climate change has also caused higher sea levels rises than previously thought.
The IPPC released their report ahead of the climate negotiations in Lima, Peru in December, where international negotiators will try to work out parameters for an agreement on cutting emissions. The goal is to have an agreement on climate change signed in Paris by December 2015.
An effective agreement to cut global emissions has been out of reach since climate change meetings began in the 1990s. Many obstacles continue today, especially for countries like Canada where fossil fuels are becoming an essential component of the economy, or China, where the government aims to maintain high levels of economic growth. But one of the most prickly countries, the U.S., is starting to show signs of adaptation.
According to the White House, the federal government has reduced its carbon emissions by 17 percent since 2008 and more than 9 percent of the government’s energy now comes from renewables.
The president made those changes mostly through executive orders. Whether the administration can extend effective climate change policies to the private sector through legislation may be a different matter.
[Image Credit: principia-scientific.org]