Ex-EPA chief says burning coal is worst thing for climate change

Professor Bronwyn Hayward of the University of Canterbury says New Zealanders will have to move urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Professor Bronwyn Hayward of the University of Canterbury says New Zealanders will have to move urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions

A new United Nations report warns that much of the world will be screwed by the year 2040 unless we basically reduce carbon emissions to zero.

The report consistently highlights the difference between a rise of 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels and a rise of 2°C.

"It's a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now", Debra Roberts, cochair of a working group on the impacts of climate change, tells The Guardian.

"We've told you the scientific facts, the evidence, the costs; it is up to the governments now to decide what to do with it", says Jim Ski, a co-chair of this panel, who calls on the globe's governments to come together to fight climate change.

Camera IconFederal Environment Minister Melissa Price.

The IPCC, the UN's top climate panel, issued the report from Incheon, Republic of Korea, where for the past week, hundreds of scientists and government representatives have been pouring over thousands of inputs to paint a picture of what could happen to the planet and its inhabitants with global warming of 1.5°C (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

M Rajeevan, secretary, ministry of earth sciences (MoES), says, "It's a hard target that requires all countries to come on board and make unprecedented changes but it's not impossible". The way we will live in the future will alter depending on the emission pathway we choose to take, and this choice could mean a matter of life and death for many vulnerable communities in India.

Curtis says if things don't change the consequences of global warming could even hurt our economy here in North Carolina by affecting things like tourism if rainfall and flooding continue to damage areas like our coast.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that the report did not "provide recommendations to Australia" and his Government's focus would be ensuring that electricity prices were lower for households and small businesses. By 2050, emissions will need to be reduced by 100 percent. "There is no time to waste", he said.

"I don't think the administration cares about this at all", said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.

If we fail to meet this objective and global temperatures rise by even a mere half a degree Celsius more to 2°C (3.6°F), the effects on our planet are expected to be devastating.

"This report is not a wake-up call, it is a ticking time bomb", said Gro Harlem Brundtland, Acting Chair of The Elders in a statement.

"We can do it but only if the deniers, the skeptics and the comfortable wake up to what the scientists are telling us", he said.

The report suggests that coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all ( 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

Global temperature is now rising 0.2C with each decade, and it is estimated we will reach 1.5C by 2040. "Several regional changes in climate are assessed to occur with global warming up to 1.5 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, including warming of extreme temperatures in many regions (high confidence), increases in frequency, intensity, and/or amount of heavy precipitation in several regions (high confidence), and an increase in intensity or frequency of droughts in some regions (medium confidence)".

In 2010, worldwide negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) since pre-industrial times.

In addition to the carbon tax, the federal government is moving on a number of fronts, both at home and internationally - phasing out coal-fired power; investing in public transit; requiring cleaner fuels; and financing clean technology development. The IPCC said it was possible to limit rises to 1.5C, but that sea levels would still rise, there would be loss of ecosystems and coral reefs, extinction threats would remain for insects, plants and animals and there was also the prospect of lower crop yields, loss marine fisheries and the disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic.

Carbon emissions must fall by 45pc by 2030, reaching "net zero" by 2050.

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