The IPCC Report on Climate Warming- Explained



  • GS Mains Paper- 1, 3

Why in news?

  • Recently the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

What is the backdrop of the report?

  • IPCC is a global body that periodically reviews scientific literature to make projections about the Earth’s future climate.
  • The report was requested by the countries that gathered to finalise the Paris Agreement in 2015.
  • The report presents the actions the world needs to take to prevent global average temperatures from rising beyond 1.5°C as compared to pre-industrial times.

What is the report about?

  • The report is about keeping warming to under 1.5°C as compared to pre-industrial times.
  • Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades.
  • So it calls for the world’s leaders to limit future human-caused warming to just 0.5°Celsius from now.
  • This is, notably, well below the earlier globally agreed-upon goal of 1° C from now.
  • The report details how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems could be made better.
  • It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in the coming December.
  • The governments will review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change in this upcoming conference.

What is Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

  • IPCC was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.
  • It is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.
  • It provides a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

What is the current warming scenario?

  • In 2010, international negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2°C since pre-industrial times, called the 2° goal.
  • In 2015, in Paris climate agreement, they set dual goals – 2°C and a more demanding target of 1.5°C from pre-industrial times.
  • The world has already warmed 1°C since pre-industrial times.
  • It is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

What would be the likely Impact?

  • In case warming reaches to 1.5 °C, climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth would increase.
  • The world’s poor would likely be hit the hardest, and extreme weather, especially heat waves, will be deadlier.
  • Diseases such as malaria, dengue, and conditions like premature deaths due to air pollution, undernourishment are likely to multiply.

What would limiting to 0.5°C from now mean for the world?

  • A number of climate change impacts could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more.
  • Half as many people would suffer from lack of water.
  • There would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases.
  • There would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.
  • Around 420 million fewer people would be exposed to extreme heat waves.
  • About 65 million fewer people will be exposed to exceptional heat waves.
  • Seas would rise nearly 4 inches (0.1 meters) less.
  • Half as many animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats.
  • The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.
  • Most of the world’s coral reefs would be saved from dying.
  • Limiting warming to 0.5°C from now means the world can keep the ecosystems much as it is now.
  • Adding another 0.5°C on top of that essentially means a different and more challenging Earth for people and species.

What does the report call for?

  • The nations’ pledges in the Paris agreement are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C in any way.
  • Meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require unprecedented changes.
  • It needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use.
  • It involves much sharper and quicker emission cuts by big emitters like China, the US, the European Union and India.
  • The measures are also likely to be heavily dependent on the success of yet-to-be-developed carbon removal technologies.
  • Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels should halve by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050.
  • Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop.
  • Switching away rapidly from fossil fuels to do this could be 3 to 4 times more expensive but would clean the air of other pollutants.
  • In turn, this would avoid more than 100 million premature deaths through this century.


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