World failing to meet 1.5°C target but solutions are ready now, says IPCC
Jim Drury

The world is failing to meet its target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and must undertake more serious measures to counteract this, says a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In 2018 the IPCC highlighted the scale of the challenge facing the world. But the new report says the challenge of limiting the rise "has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change."

But its authors insist that all is not lost and say there are "multiple, feasible and effective options" to reduce CO2 emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change available now.

An increase in forest fires are among the damaging effects of climate change. /Ramon Costa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA
An increase in forest fires are among the damaging effects of climate change. /Ramon Costa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

An increase in forest fires are among the damaging effects of climate change. /Ramon Costa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Co-author Matthias Garschagen, from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, said that

in comparison to the group's last assessment, climate impacts are occurring faster than previously thought. "We are in a position where the cuts and the turnarounds are even deeper than what they would have needed to be before."

With projections that two-thirds of the world's population will be living in cities by 2050, the IPCC's report examines solutions for physical urban planning and blue-green spaces, containing water and vegetation.

According to Bronwyn Hayward, a New Zealand political scientist: "When we're all working together, cities can be... sites of emissions, but they're also fabulous sites for solutions for the climate challenge ahead."

Suggested accelerated action by developed countries include upscaling carbon dioxide removal, literally sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

According to report contributor Oliver Geden, of the University of Oxford: "We're doing that already with tree planting, but we will need on top of that technological options like direct air capture with carbon storage that uses less land and has a more stable and more permanent storage because it only will work if the CO2 then also stays out of the atmosphere for centuries or even millennia."

He added: "You can also build machines which suck it out of the air with filters, with chemical filters, which will cost us quite some money. And you need to put it somewhere probably in geological storage. It will probably be one of the major issues in the next assessment cycle."


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Garschagen says many measures available have useful "synergies between mitigation, adaptation and ecosystems-based adaptation." He explained: "For instance, the same wetland which is good for flood retention is also good for carbon storage, is also good for heat mitigation, for instance."

He described such measures as the "low-hanging fruits, the 'No Regrets' solutions" which countries could undertake immediately to great effect.

Garschagen also insisted governments must try to avoid the risks of overshoot – in essence, temporarily exceeding the 1.5°C target in the hope of puling it back with technical solutions.

He said: "We'll be losing ecosystems on the way, glaciers, coral reefs and so forth. And some of that loss would be irreversible. Overshoot might be tempting from a mitigation point of view. It's not tempting from a risk point of view."

The report asserts that there is "sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced." It calls for increased finance in climate investments.

"Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part."

The IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change and publishes a comprehensive scientific assessment every six to seven years.

The Fifth Assessment Report, was completed in 2014 and provided the main scientific input to The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 Parties in December 2015.


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