After working overtime for the last couple of years, scientists volunteering for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have now provided a report summarizing what existing research tells us about a 1.5ºC warmer world.
This would mean replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles or other clean alternatives and scrapping the use of gas boilers in homes in just a few decades.
But the IPCC report sidestepped questions of feasibility and focused instead on determining what governments, businesses and individuals would need to do to meet the 1.5 °C goal.
The report stressed the half-degree difference was life changing.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.
U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) secretary-general Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva: "There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment".
Brown said in response to the IPCC report that "the big powers - the United States, China, India and the European Union - must show the way". Average temperatures rose by 0.12 of a degree per decade from 1885 to 2017. "And what is going to happen from now until 2030 is critical, especially for CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions".
Neither Premier Ford nor Mr. Kenney have yet said what policies they would employ to cut emissions, or whether they support Canada's objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 - a commitment made under the Paris accord.
Theoretically, technologies that suck carbon out of the air and allow us to bury it underground could help - and will be needed. Starting in 1994, a central aim of the UN's climate change efforts (the Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) was to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would "prevent unsafe anthropogenic interference with the climate system". The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5 °C, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.
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An increase of 1.5C will still carry climate-related risks for nature and mankind, but at a lower level than a rise of 2C, the report summary said.
According to the authors of the study, limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 °C, rather than 2°C is vital if humanity hopes to mitigate some of the most devastating effects of climate change. "Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050", the report states.
"Our understanding of 1.5°C was very limited, all but two or three of the models we had then were based on a 2°C target", said Henri Waisman, a senior researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris, and one of the report's 86 authors.
"Small island nations and poor nations view 1.5 as the target that will guarantee their actual survival", Axios' science editor Andrew Freedman said Monday in an interview on Cheddar. The Arctic, for example, is likely to be several degrees warmer, increasing ice melt and sea level rise.
Even if warming is kept at or just below 1.5 degrees C, the impacts will be widespread and significant.
The land area at risk is projected to be approximately 50 per cent lower at 1.5°C compared to 2°C. We expect to lose 75 to 90 percent of coral reefs by 1.5°C; at 2.0 °C, that number is over 99 percent.
"We're not on track, we're now heading for about 3 degrees or 4 degrees of warming by 2100", Mark Howden, a climate change scientist at Australian National University, said during an online briefing on Sunday.
Impacts ranging from increased droughts and water scarcity to extreme weather, spread of diseases such as malaria, economic damage, and harm to yields of maize, rice and wheat will be less severe at 1.5C than 2C.
In short, the report's answer for governments is that limiting warming to 1.5 °C would come with large benefits, and it is still technically possible.