8 October 2018
“The implications for Australia are quite serious, even though 1.5 degrees is often perceived as a safe level." -- Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
“The implications for Australia are quite serious, even though 1.5 degrees is often perceived as a safe level." -- Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced today.

The UN body for assessing the science related to climate change has 195 member states who have signed onto the special report.

UQ Global Change Institute Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coordinating lead author for the latest IPCC report into climate change, said current analysis revealed we could still meet a 1.5°C target.

“However, it will involve a very significant increase in addressing the mitigation challenge,” he said.

“I hope that governments and the public read this important document and begin the deep and concerted action required to avoid the serious impacts of reaching and exceeding global warming of 2.0 °C.

“We are at one-minute-to-midnight on the clock showing the time left to act on climate change," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

The world has warmed by one degree Celsius since the pre-industrial period and the science is clear that it is caused by humans.

Activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests raise greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm.

According to the vast information collected for the special report, the world is already experiencing the impacts of rapid and unequivocal global warming such as the decline of coral reefs, sea level rise, Arctic sea ice loss, decreasing biodiversity, declining crop yields, more frequent heatwaves and droughts in some regions, and heavy rainfall events in others.

Some places (‘hotspots’) are changing at different rates and are warming faster than the global average.

By the decade 2006-2015, 20-40% of the global population had already experienced warming of 1.5°C in at least one season.

The summary delivered to policy makers today also assessed the advantages of staying at 1.5°C versus achieving 2.0 °C. The conclusions are that the costs of acting is much lower than the cost of inaction.

"A key finding of the report is that 1.5°C is not a safe level of global warming; however it is much safer than 2.0 °C. We are still going to see many challenges at 1.5°C," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“The implications are quite serious for Australia, especially if the international community doesn’t urgently pull together to solve this problem.”

"We need show that we are serious about the issues, which will affect our country for generations if we don’t."

The latest IPPC report on climate change involved more than 6000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide.

The report's full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Read the IPCC report http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

Key statistics of the report

  • 91 authors from 44 citizenships and 40 countries of residence
  • 14 Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs)
  • 60 Lead authors (LAs)
  • 17 Review Editors (REs)
  • 133 Contributing authors (CAs)
  • More than 6000 cited references
  • A total of 42,001 expert and government review comments (First Order Draft 12,895; Second Order Draft 25,476; Final Government Draft: 3,630)

For more information, contact:

IPCC Press Office, Email: ipcc-media@wmo.int
Werani Zabula +41 79 108 3157 or Nina Peeva +41 79 516 7068

GCI Communications: Mob: 0438 285 283, gcicomms@uq.edu.au

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