Governments around the world must take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the global scientific authority on climate change.
The IPCC noted in its report that the transitions needed are "unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options".
Two decades. That's all the time world leaders have to reverse emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid inundating coastal cities, killing off coral reefs and their attendant marine wildlife, and potential food shortages, according to a new United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
And if we hold warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees, the report suggests global sea level rise will be a whole 10 centimetres lower - potentially stopping what the report describes as a "disproportionately rapid evacuation" of people from the tropics.
The IPCC, the UN's top climate panel, issued the report from Incheon, Republic of Korea, where for the past week, hundreds of scientists and government representatives have been pouring over thousands of inputs to paint a picture of what could happen to the planet and its inhabitants with global warming of 1.5°C (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The CEO noted that the report is very clear in its confirmation that wide-ranging impacts of climate change will be much worse at 2° of warming than at 1.5°. Essential for pollinating crops, they will be more likely to lose half their habitat at two degrees than 1.5.
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If every country fulfills the pledges it made for the Paris agreement in 2015, the world may still warm 2.6 to 3.2 degrees C by the end of the century, by some estimates.
To stop this happening, the world will need to make "unprecedented" changes in power generation, industry, transport, buildings and potential shifts in lifestyle such as eating less meat, according to the International Panel on Climate Change.
While more than 180 countries have accepted the report's summary, the United States (which is the second biggest emitter in the world) said that their acceptance of the report does not "imply endorsement" of the findings.
The study was urgent because CO2, the main greenhouse gas, reached record levels in the atmosphere previous year, and current pledges to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement would lead to warming of about 3 deg C.
Scottish Greens' co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "We've always challenged the government to go further in its response to unsafe climate change".
According to the report, limiting warming to a 2-degree rise would require CO2 emissions to drop by around 20% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" (through the use of carbon-capturing technologies) by 2075.
"This report is not a wake-up call, it is a ticking time bomb", said Gro Harlem Brundtland, Acting Chair of The Elders in a statement. And we're already seeing just how powerful climate change can be. But Monday's report comes amid a reactionary political climate.
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