India will be worst affected, says United Nations climate report

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In its landmark report, the United Nations has warned that time is running out to avert disaster, adding that avoiding global climate chaos will require a major transformation of society and the world economy that is "unprecedented in scale".

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said on Monday in Geneva that there was "extreme urgency" needed on the part of Paris Agreement signatories, and "so far the progress hasn't been good enough" to keep temperature rises below even 2°.

The report will provide the framework of discussion for the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

"The reality is that we're very off track from where we need to be", says Rachel Cleetus, policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, who was not involved with the new report.

The Scottish Government will seek fresh independent advice on its climate change targets after a new report warned countries must take "unprecedented" action to slash carbon emissions.

One expert - Appalachian State University environmental scientist Gregg Marland - said limiting global warming to either 1.5 or 2 degrees seems unlikely.

Sea level rises would be 10cm lower with a 1.5C temperature rise compared to 2C by 2100, while there would be worse impacts on coral reefs and the Arctic at higher temperatures. Moreover, coral reefs, already threatened, would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2°C, according to the report. Heat stress is likely to become increasingly frequent and more intense with increased warming.

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Landmark UN climate report warns time quickly running out

"Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes."
Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.

The lower target would also reduce species loss and extinction and the impact on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems, the report said.

"It's a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now", said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts.

"Climate change is already affecting people, eco systems and livelihoods all around the world", he says. The world now pumps more than 40 billion tons of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year; the IPCC calls for that number to be cut by more than 1 billion tons per year over the next decade.

Below is some background about the IPCC and the report. When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is created to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster.

"Three years ago, when 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, we asked the IPCC to tell us what action was needed for the world to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and what might happen if the world would fail to do so".

Increased droughts and poverty brought on by the atmosphere's temperature climbing up to 1.5 degrees Celsius, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate.

"Let's not forget that Australia accounts for just over one per cent of global emissions, so there are a lot bigger players than us out there impacting on these arrangements", he said. At 1.5 degrees, fewer species would go extinct.

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