Global warming is currently rising at such a rate, that in a decade it is likely to surpass the level of warming that leaders had sought to prevent in the Paris Climate Agreement, warns a damning report by the United Nations.
The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, a United Nations body, just released its grimmest report yet on the topic of climate change, painting a near disastrous situation at a global level for humanity and the rest of the planet. The UN-Secretary-General António Guterres have called the report "a code red for humanity".
The report comes at a time when every continent in the world is witnessing extreme weather events like floods, cyclones, droughts and historic temperatures in rapid succession. The authors of the report have warned that while there is still some time left to avoid catastrophic consequences, countries across the world would have to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
Even if leaders agree to do so in the next climate summit at Glasgow this year, it would take around two to three decades for global temperatures to stablise, the report added.
Here are some of the top takeaways from the report.
1. Human-induced climate change has been observed as the top driver of global climate change.
"It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change," the vice-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the senior adviser for climate at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ko Barrett said on the report. "Each of the last four decades has been the warmest on record since pre-industrial times," she added.
2. Extreme hot weather and heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while extreme cold weather has reduced in frequency and intensity. "This whiplash — this increase in both extreme wet and dry events — is projected to increase through the 21st century," said Kim Cobb, one of the authors of the report, and a paleoclimate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology.
3. The world will likely cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius warning mark (above pre-industrial levels) in the 2030s, earlier than predicted. The report warned that at 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, heat extremes would reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.
"We are at an imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts and pursuing the most ambitious path," Guterres told the media, "We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive."
4. Greenhouse gasses have been responsible for nearly 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming since 1850-1900.
5. Sea levels are rising at a rapid rate around the world. The average rate of rise more than doubled from 1.3mm/year to 3.7mm/year from 1901-1971 to between 2006-2018. Globally, sea level has risen by 20cm on average globally, between 1901 and 2018.
6. Rise in sea level has been primarily driven by melting glaciers. The report adds that there is a lag between emissions of greenhouse gasses, and melting of glaciers and ice - this means even if human emissions of greenhouse gasses were to be curtailed today, it would take decades for the rise in sea levels to slow down.
7. Carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, was found to be higher in 2019 than "any other time in two million years".
8. The report also warned of climate tipping points - critical thresholds which could lead to drastic changes if crossed. The report highlighted that such tipping points could send climatic conditions spiralling out of control, but also noted that such a possibility could be reduced by quick action to cut emissions
Read the full report here.
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