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UN climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming

By Brooks Hays
UN climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming
UN report calls for an immediate and aggressive response to global warming. Photo by ziggysofi/Shutterstock

Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The IPCC report, which was produced with the help of 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries, was approved over the weekend at a meeting in South Korea.

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According to the report, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of 2 degrees, offers the best chance of protecting people, property and natural ecosystems -- and "ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society."

"Every extra bit of warming matters," Hans-Otto Pörtner of the IPCC said in a news release.

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The 33-page summary includes the explicit warnings yet about the consequences of allowing global temperatures to rise in excess of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"It is seriously alarming," Amjad Abdulla, one of the report's authors, told BBC News. "The small islands will be the first, but nobody can escape; it is quite clear."

The UN report warns the most serious impacts of climate change could arrive as early as 2030 if carbon emissions aren't significantly reduced. The planet is already experiencing the effects of global warming.

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"We are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, one of the report's authors.

If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, the effects of climate change will be serious but manageable. Warming above 2 degrees, the UN warns, is likely to yield dangerous results.

To limit warming, report authors claim significant actions must be taken to change land use practices, transform the energy sector and curb industry emissions. Governments must also work transform their infrastructure, the report's authors warn.

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According to the report, limiting global warming will require greener cities and more sustainable transportation industries.

No new technologies are necessary to limit warming, according to the IPCC.

"We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will. We cannot answer that," Jim Skea, a co-chair of the working group on mitigation, told The Guardian. "Only our audience can -- and that is the governments that receive it."

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