What’s in a degree or two?

The Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide, relevant to the understanding of climate change.

© Jonathan Gladding

The recently approved IPCC SPECIAL REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5°C clearly shows the grave risks of exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – an upper limit of warming that small islands states have advocated for many years especially during the Paris Climate talks.

This report is a wake-up call for Governments, it gives us a road map for the future and it sounds the alarm about complacency. We can no longer procrastinate on taking action to avert the destructive impacts of climate change. While this report highlights the gravity of the situation, it also gives hope that it is still possible to keep global warming to 1.5˚C or below. The report highlights the current status of emissions and what actions are required to ensure that warming is limited to 1.5˚C.

The IPCC Special Report indicates that the current climate actions are not consistent with what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As it stands, the current actions outlined under the Paris Agreement through countries Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) is not sufficient to maintain global warming below 1.5˚C and much more needs to be done.

It clearly identifies where the risks, challenges and opportunities are and gives a whole range of options and actions that can be taken.

The report shows that 1.5˚C of warming is not just a limit for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Saint Lucia but it’s a limit for everyone.

The escalating impacts that SIDS are facing today are being felt by vulnerable populations around the world. From extreme weather events to sea level rise, from slowed economic growth to biodiversity loss, there are substantial risks for all of us if we were to exceed 1.5°C.

The difference between warming at 1.5°C and 2°C is fundamental. Compared to 2°C, 1.5°C would mean lower water stress, less intense rainfall during tropical cyclones, and less exposure to irreversible sea level rise. At 1.5°C, some coral reefs will be able adapt, while at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none, and the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them will be irrevocably damaged.

The report clearly underlines the fact that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is achievable and is likely to have considerable sustainable development benefits.

The world needs to make an urgent switch from fossil fuels to renewables. We must de-carbonise the electricity sector by 2050. This means rapidly reducing our energy demand and accelerating the energy system transformation that has already started. The first and most urgent thing to do is to phase out our use of coal to zero by 2050.

It is very clear, throughout this report, that there is a huge difference between 1.5˚C and 2˚C of warming. The longer we take to act, the more expensive, dangerous and difficult it will be.

It also shows that we are already committed to a certain level of climate change, and we be dealing with the effects of that for a long time to come, especially with sea level rise, a central issue of concern for SIDS.

This report clearly highlights the need for Saint Lucia to continue its actions for mitigation and adaption.

 

 

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