Climate change: unchecked gas emissions will make Earth 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter by 2040, experts at United Nation’s IPCC warn
- Human activities have already caused global temperatures to increase by 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1850
- Even if emissions are reduced, some of the changes cannot be reversed for hundreds or maybe thousands of years, IPCC report warns
Even if strong and sustained carbon emission reduction is achieved, it will take two to three decades for global temperatures to stabilise, and some of the impacts – such as an increase in sea level – will not be reversed for hundreds or maybe thousands of years, the report said.
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An ongoing heatwave and wildfires in Greece and Turkey has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
The IPCC report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5 degrees in the next decades. Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5 or even 2 degrees “will be beyond reach,” it added.
The report, titled Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, was approved on Friday by the 195-member governments of the IPCC. It comes three months ahead of the next major global climate negotiation that will take place in Glasgow in November.
It is the IPCC’s sixth report on climate change, which for the first time provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change to facilitate risk assessment, mitigation and adaptation decisions. The previous report was published in 2014.
The report projects that climate change will bring more intense rainfall and flooding, and more intense drought in many regions. Coastal regions will see continued rise in sea levels throughout this century, contributing to more frequent and severe flooding in low-lying areas.
“Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century,” the report said.
In East Asia, which includes China, the Korea peninsula and Japan, the experts have “high confidence” that heavy precipitation will increase in frequency and intensity, resulting in more frequent landslides in some mountainous areas.
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They have “medium confidence” that droughts have become more frequent in much of the region, while the rate of intensification and the number of strong tropical cyclones have increased.
The global economy could be 11 to 14 per cent smaller by 2050 if the Paris Agreement commitments are not met, with global temperatures rising 2 to 2.6 degrees from pre-industrial levels, according to a study by reinsurer Swiss Re in April.
Asia is among the least climate-resilient regions because of its poor capacity to adapt and the risk of heatwave-induced economic losses, it noted.
“Humans have been implicated in the changes we have seen in the climate; there is still a chance for redemption but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” he said.