In the Paris Climate Agreement adopted in 2015, they asked the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a part of the United Nations) to create a report on the impact of global warming if our planet’s average temperature was 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures and warmer. Ninety-one authors and editors were selected from forty countries to draft the report. These authors were nominated globally for their expertise in the topic. The panel researched this topic, peers reviewed their drafts, and they published their findings in 2018. The report claims that we need to not go above 1.5° Celsius; otherwise, it will be dangerous and cause myriad problems. Sea levels will rise, which will force people to move inland or build new infrastructure. More extreme weather like heat waves, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and fires, will be more common. Fast changes and swings in temperatures can also cause species to be unable to adapt and go extinct, making our ecosystem less resilient.
We reached 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1900 AD) in 2017 and are warming at an average rate of 0.2° every 10 years. So, it’s estimated that we will reach 1.5 by 2030. We need to cut our current GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 45% by 2030 and become net zero by 2050 in order to remain no more than 1.5° Celsius above. GHGs comes from burning fossil fuels like gas in cars, factories, producing products, building homes, running A/C and heating, etc. In order to cut our emissions, we need to reduce our use of energy and convert to non-fossil-fuel energy sources. In addition, we need to implement carbon dioxide removal projects that will remove and store CO2 from the atmosphere, such as planting trees.
The important thing about this report is the wide consensus of scientists who all agree on the data, how urgent we need to make major changes to our current systems to reduce our emissions, and the major consequences if we don’t. We have the knowledge and solutions now to solve this; all we need is the political will.
This report is what is driving policy in government and has brought awareness to the public to demand change.