Last week scientists from around the globe came together to contextualise and discuss an array of climate-related data. Published in the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C yesterday (9th October), this data spells out the daunting reality of the decarbonisation challenge.
The report reveals unprecedented changes are required across society to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Doing so will reduce the severity of climate impacts ranging from extreme weather to rising seas, and in the wake of the report, campaigners urged rapid action from governments and individuals.
The 33-page Summary for Policymakers certainly bears the hallmarks of negotiations between climate researchers and political representatives. However, despite the inevitable compromises, there are some key messages that should resonate with each of us.
“The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,” said Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC. “The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5°C – changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.”
The reports findings spell out in stark terms the risks of inaction, and serve as an empowering message for businesses. Limiting the rise in warming to 1.5°C avoids many, but not all of the worst climate impacts seen at 2°C or above.
Climate change is the biggest threat of our time and its effects are being felt around the world. The transformation to a zero-carbon way of living is challenging and, as evidenced in this announcement, it is not always smooth. To make this transition we need strong and forward-thinking leadership at all levels of society, through government to individuals. History will determine how far-reaching this report will be and also whether this action will prove to be a seminal moment in the global response to climate change.
The Planet Mark CEO and founder Steve Malkin commented: “We are all seeing the effects of climate change and most of us want to do our bit. The Planet Mark is helping organisations and their people cut their carbon by 12% per employee. So, if you want to take positive action on climate change, join our programme to make an immediate impact.”
“This is the moment where we need to decide” said Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace. “We want to move to clean energy, sustainable lifestyles. We want to protect our forests and species. This is the moment that we will remember; this is the year when the turning point happened.”