The need for urgent action over global warming has been underlined by a new wide-ranging report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
It warned the Earth’s temperature rise must be kept to 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels.
It estimates that in 12 years it will be too late to limit the temperature rise to this figure.
Previously governments had agreed to limit carbon emissions in order to keep the temperature rise to 2 degrees.
But the IPCC said that just half a degree less will limit changes to oceans, food production and animal extinction.
For instance, 99 percent of coral would be lost if temperatures rose by 2 degrees.
If the rise was limited to 1.5 degrees it’s estimated over 10 percent would survive.
Water stress is when demand for water outstrips supply.
The IPCC estimates that if temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees, water stress will be 50 percent lower than if they increased by 2 degrees.
Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, called the report the “the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”
“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,” she said.
Temperatures have already increased by 1 degree on pre-industrial levels.
The planet is currently on course for a 3 degree rise by 2050. These changes don’t just mean a slightly warmer climate. Sea levels will rise, food production will be threatened and heat-related deaths will increase.
2018 has been an unusually hot year for the northern hemisphere.
But there have also been record-breaking droughts, devastating floods and huge hurricanes across the globe.
Time is running out, and the IPCC urges the need for immediate action to limit carbon emissions—one of the key agreements from the Paris talks.
It says that carbon pollution will need to be eradicated by 2050, not in 2075 as was suggested by the previous agreements.
Co-chair of the IPCC mitigation group Jim Skea said that it had “presented governments with pretty hard choices” that would require an “unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport”.
“We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will”, he said.
The report is a welcome step in recognising the devastating effects of climate change.
But it will mean little unless serious action is taken to address the industries that are stripping the Earth of its natural resources and filling the air with pollution.
And that means challenging the priorities of capitalism.