UN body sets CO2 emis­sion cap to limit cli­mate change catas­tro­phe

Need ur­gent, un­prece­dented and col­lec­tive ac­tion to limit global warm­ing to 1.5°C, says in­ter-govern­men­tal panel


Emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide (CO2) caused by hu­man ac­tiv­ity must reach “net zero” by 2050 to keep the aver­age rise in global tem­per­a­tures at 1.5 °C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els to re­duce cat­a­strophic cli­mate-change risk on pop­u­la­tions, the United Na­tions In­ter-govern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) said on Mon­day.

There is a need for ur­gent, un­prece­dented and col­lec­tive ac­tion to limit global warm­ing to 1.5°C in­stead of 2°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, which oth­er­wise will cause ex­treme weather events, ris­ing sea lev­els, loss of bio­di­ver­sity and chal­leng­ing im­pact on wa­ter sup­ply, food se­cu­rity, health and liveli­hood of sev­eral hun­dred mil­lions of peo­ple, IPCC said in its re­port Global Warm­ing of 1.5ºc, which was re­leased at Incheon, South Korea on Mon­day.

The re­port warned that global warm­ing is ex­pected to sur­pass 1.5°C, un­der the cur­rent emis­sion tar­gets agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agree­ment, even if sup­ple­mented with very chal­leng­ing in­creases of mit­i­ga­tion stan­dards af­ter 2030.

“Rise of aver­age tem­per­a­tures by 2°C is much more cat­a­strophic than thought when the Paris Agree­ment was signed,” warned the re­port pre­pared by sci­en­tists from 40 coun­tries that is the re­sult of a study in­sti­tuted by the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC).

More than 195 coun­tries, in­clud­ing In­dia, had pledged un­der the Paris Agree­ment signed at the UNFCCC meet in Paris in 2015 to limit the in­crease in global aver­age tem­per­a­tures to well be­low 2°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els and pur­sue ef­forts to limit the tem­per­a­ture rise fur­ther to 1.5°C .

Hu­man-in­duced warm­ing had in 2017 al­ready reached 1°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els and is likely to reach 1.5°C be­tween 2030 and 2052, if it con­tin­ues to in­crease at the cur­rent rate, said the re­port.

This is sig­nif­i­cant for In­dia, which could bear the brunt of the ef­fect of global warm­ing along with other de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

“Even at a lit­tle over 1.0°C warm­ing, In­dia is be­ing bat­tered by the worst cli­mate ex­tremes. It is clear that the sit­u­a­tion at 1.5°C is go­ing to worsen. The re­port has served us a fi­nal warn­ing that we must get our act to­gether, now and quickly,” said Su­nita Narain, direc­tor gen­eral at Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment.

The IPCC panel high­lighted that it is not pos­si­ble to limit global warm­ing to 1.5°C even with the cur­rent am­bi­tion tar­gets, un­less rapid, far-reach­ing and un­prece­dented changes are made.

“Lim­it­ing warm­ing to 1.5°C is pos­si­ble within the laws of chem­istry and physics, but do­ing so would re­quire un­prece­dented changes,” said Jim Skea, co-chair­per­son of IPCC work­ing group III.

The global net hu­man-caused CO2 would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 lev­els by 2030, reach­ing “net zero” around 2050 to limit warm­ing at 1.5°C, ac­cord­ing to the IPCC re­port. In­vest­ments in low-car­bon en­ergy tech­nolo­gies and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency would need to ap­prox­i­mately dou­ble in the next 20 years and in­vest­ment in fos­sil-fuel ex­trac­tion and con­ver­sion de­crease by about a quar­ter.

In­dia had com­mit­ted to cut­ting its green­house gas emis­sion in­ten­sity by 33-35% be­low 2005 lev­els and achiev­ing 40% of its elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion from re­new­able sources by 2030.

Apart from its lead­ing role in the launch of the In­ter­na­tional So­lar Al­liance to boost re­new­able en­ergy, In­dia has also an­nounced that it will gen­er­ate 175 gi­gawatts (GW) re­new­able en­ergy by 2022, of which 100GW will be so­lar en­ergy.


Steep tar­gets: Hu­man-caused CO2 would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 lev­els by 2030, reach­ing zero around 2050 to limit warm­ing at 1.5°C.

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