Limiting global warming to 1.5°C: the IPCC report

Early October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its awaited special report on the impacts of global warning of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC was commissioned as part of the Paris Agreement to produce this report. The Paris Agreement includes the aim of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. Pre-industrial levels refer to the period of around 1850-1900.

Climate change effects already visible

Extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Artic sea ice are the consequences of 1°C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report states that human activities are estimated to have caused this 1°C global warming above pre-industrial levels, and that global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2050. However, the report highlights that warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia but that these emissions alone are unlikely to cause global warming of 1.5°C. Anthropogenic emissions are also unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades. Climate change effects are already visible. Many land regions experience a warming greater than the global annual average. Moreover, scientists observe a trend in some climate and weather extremes that are occurring more frequently and with more intensity.

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