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Landmark UN climate report warns about huge risks of looming global warming

Urgent changes are needed to avoid impending global warming with consequences of drought, floods and poverty, a new report has warned.

Released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday, the report says there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, with the world now being now completely off track, heading instead towards a dangerous 3C.

“Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate”, the report states.

The Paris Agreement saw nations setting a goal between 1.5C and 2C, but scientists say this is not enough. Prof Jim Skea, who is a co-chair of the IPCC, said “limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to 2 degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways.”

He added that changes of ‘unprecedented nature’ in energy systems, land management, and transportation are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C.

The review analyses thousands of scientific papers and predicts harm to yields of maize, rice and wheat will be less severe at 1.5C than 2C. Failing to stick to the target would result in droughts and water scarcity, extreme weather, spread of diseases such as malaria and global economic damage.

In 2009, the Copenhagen Accord saw nations adopting a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees C pre-industrial times.

However, the 728-page document co-written by more than 90 scientists says the world has already warmed 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, so what global negotiators should focus now is about the difference of another half-degree C.

“There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 above pre-industrial levels,” the U.N.-requested report said.

“We have presented governments with pretty hard choices”, Jim Skea, a co-chair of the working group on mitigation told the Guardian, “we have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that.

“We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will. We cannot answer that. Only our audience can – and that is the governments that receive it.”

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