The clock is ticking on climate change

WHATis the report all about?

  • The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C was prepared by IPCC, the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris Agreement.
  • It was written by 91 climate scientists from 40 countries.
  • The conclusions are based on an analysis of more than 6,000 separate climate studies.


  • IPCC is a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders on climate science. It was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

WHATis the gist of the Paris Agreement?

  • The Paris Agreement is a historic agreement signed by 195 countries to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C, to reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
  • The agreement terms wereadopted by consensus at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, in December 2015.

WHATare some of the critical points in the IPCC report?

  • The IPCC report gives a clear warning. It draws attention to the findings that the impacts of global warming at 1.5 degrees C are far greater than anticipated and estimated earlier, while the impacts at 2 degrees C are catastrophic.
  • • Global warming has already reached 1 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.
  • • At the current rate of emissions, the world is set to breach the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052, which means we have less than 12 years to tackle climate change to prevent some of its most devastating effects.
  • • The report describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

WHYis half a degree such a big deal?

The report highlights that a number of climate change impacts could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C compared to 2 degrees C, or more.

  • At 1.5 degrees C, the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress (deterioration of fresh water resources) could be 50% lower than at 2 degrees C.
  • • Insects, which are vital for pollination, are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2 degrees C compared with 1.5 degrees C.
  • • Coral reefs, already threatened, would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5 degrees C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2 degrees C.
  • • Ice-free summers in the Arctic would come once every 100 years at 1.5 degrees C, but every 10 years with half a degree more of global warming.
  • • By 2100, global mean sea level rise is projected to be around 0.1 metre lower if the global warming is restricted to 1.5 degrees C compared to 2 degrees C.

HOWcan the target of 1.5 degrees C be achieved, according to the report?

  • The report says, though difficult, the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels is achievable by the end of the century.
  • Global net emissions of carbon dioxide will have to be cut by 45% by 2030 and brought down to zero by 2050.
  • By 2050, use of coal as an electricity source will have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1 and 7%.
  • Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which makes up about 20% of the electricity mix today, will have to increase to as much as 67%.
  • Reining in emissions of another greenhouse gas, methane, from livestock is necessary.
  • Trees should be planted on wide swathes of the world.
  • Adopt techniques to remove CO2 from the air to return global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees C by 2100.
  • The report also emphasised imposing tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

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