Statement on the Summary for Policymakers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C:
“The Global Warming of 1.5C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the need to maintain the strongest commitment to the Paris Agreement’s aims of limiting global warming to well below 2ºC and pursuing efforts towards 1.5ºC.
The IPCC’s special report clearly states that the world has already warmed by 1ºC due to human activity. As a result, climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods across the globe, with impacts such as floods or droughts disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable. Some of the most affected areas are small islands, megacities, coastal regions and high mountain ranges.
The report provides an assessment of the latest science on warming of 1.5ºC as opposed to warming of 2ºC. The difference between these two numbers, a mere half of a degree, may not sound like much. But the IPCC projects that a 2°C rise in the global average temperature would lead to worse global and regional climate impacts. For example, limiting warming to 1.5ºC rather than 2ºC could result in 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heatwaves.
A far-reaching transition
Given such impacts, the world needs to keep the Paris Agreement’s goals within its sight.
According to the IPCC’s report, limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible, but requires unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. To minimize future global warming, we will need to achieve zero net emissions by mid-century. This in turn will require us to rapidly transition the world’s economy onto such a pathway. Over the next 10 to 20 years we must transform our energy, agricultural, urban and industrial systems, engage non-state actors, and integrate climate action into the broader public policy framework that also addresses jobs, security and technology.
Tackling climate change can also be consistent with ensuring people around the world are healthy, prosperous, have food, clean air and water. Agriculture, water, energy, biodiversity, public health, cities – every sector addressed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals influences, and is influenced by, the climate. Everything is connected. Climate action towards 1.5ºC can be a significant step towards achieving the SDGs.
In the intergovernmental process under the Paris Agreement, this implies the clear need to work towards speedily implementing countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In their NDCs, countries detail what they will contribute to the global response to climate change.
The global response includes emissions reductions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Many developing countries need technological, financial and capacity building support to make their contribution to the global effort.
Action and cooperation
To unlock practical actions and contributions towards the Paris Agreement’s goals, governments have set a deadline for themselves to finalise the agreement’s implementation guidelines at the annual UN Climate Change Conference this December in Katowice, Poland.
These guidelines will build trust by ensuring transparency. They will enable each country to act and contribute, they will allow all of us to see what each country is doing, and they will allow us to have full clarity on the provision of support, especially climate finance now and in the long-term.
In this sense, a successful outcome in Katowice will be a first and most crucial step towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals of limiting global warming to well below 2ºC and pursuing efforts towards 1.5ºC.
Recognizing the need to promote greater international cooperation and more partnerships among local governments, business and civil society, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host a Climate Summit in September 2019. The Summit will mobilize support for ambitious climate action that will help us to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. It will do this by engaging decisions-makers in all key sectors of society and inviting them to join together in building the green economy. Every delay now will only shift the burden to our children and grandchildren.
Pursuing efforts towards 1.5ºC is essential for our future and for future generations’ wellbeing. Accepting and rising to this challenge is the only way that we can ensure that nobody is left behind.”