Countries have to make unprecedented transitions in all sectors to avoid devastating consequences of climate change and keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century, says a report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an worldwide body set up in 1988.
Reaffirming the Federal Government's commitment to the Paris agreement, which aims to cut 2005-level emissions 26 per cent by 2030, Environment Minister Melissa Price said the IPCC report would be considered as part of a review of Australia's contribution to global action on climate change. For example, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 centimeters lower with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with 2 degrees Celsius.
The 1.5-degree scenario will require cutting Carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 45 percent over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030 and to a net zero by 2050-net zero meaning that all Carbon dioxide released will need to be captured and stored or reused.
"At +2 degrees Celsius warming, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect annual conditions equivalent to their deadly 2015 heatwaves (medium confidence)", it said.
After the report's publication there were headlines like: "We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost".
In his article, Shellenberger details the United Nations' historical distaste for nuclear power, including a 30-year-old report which advocated poor nations "sustainable" use of wood for fuel which, it said, would require a massive restructuring of the countries' agricultural economies. "But I would say the biggest obstacle really is political will".
Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or "overshoot" 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove Carbon dioxide from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100.
"It's clear that the consequences of acting slowly are devastating for the planet and our way of life", said Merran Smith, executive director of the group Clean Energy Canada.
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Average global temperatures have already soared by an average of 1 degree since the start of the 20th century.
"Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics", said Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group dealing with the mitigation of climate change.
"The next few years are probably the most important in our history", she added. But several studies conclude that India is vulnerable to climate change impacts. In their conclusions, environment ministers recall the progress made in recent months by the European Union on legislation which delivers on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing nations and least developed countries have been asking developed nations, particularly the U.S., to take historical and moral responsibility for being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters.
"Every half a degree of warming matters", said IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee.
The lower target would also reduce species loss and extinction and the impact on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems, the report said.
"Urban systems that are moving towards transformation are coupling solar and wind with battery storage and electric vehicles in a more incremental transition, though this would still require changes in regulations, tax incentives, new standards, demonstration projects and education programs to enable markets for this system to work", the IPCC report said. That slower rate of rising water would mean that people living in island nations and along coastlines would have more time to adapt. "There's certainly things that we'll need to invest in more to develop the next generation of solutions".