• Exclusive
    Report on limiting human-induced warming
    By Zhai Panmao | Updated: 2018-10-16 16:05
        Zhai Panmao

    After rounds of strict experts and governments review and line by line approval processes, the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C was eventually accepted by all participating governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Oct 6. The report, also known as SR15, will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

    Why do we need the SR15 and to persue effort of limiting global warming to 1.5 C? Let’s take a look from a historical perspective. Since the Industrial times, more extensive exploitation and application of fossil fuels have continuously given rise to a concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists have observed many changes in the climate system never before seen, such as atmospheric and oceanic warming and melting glaciers. It thus became imperative for human beings to reduce their dangerous interference in the climate system, and looking at how to respond to threats from climate change to natural system and human society became the focus of global academia and policymakers.

    Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, controlling and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions has been put on top of the agenda for all 195 participating nations as a way of dealing with climate change. In December 2015 all nations of the framework convention approved the Paris Agreement that makes it explicit to “holding the increase in the global average temperature increase to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels”.

    For many regions that are more vulnerable and exposed to the drastic climate change risks, a temperature rise of 2 C will have a much greater impact more than they can cope with. So in the Decision of COP 21 of the UNFCCC to adopt the Paris Agreement in December 2015, it contained an invitation to the IPCC to “provide a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways" and the IPCC accepted the invitation in April 2016.

    By assessing as many as 6,000 pieces of scientific literature, SR15 presents the world the latest scientific findings on what global warming of 1.5 C would mean. It also offers emission pathways consistent with 1.5 C of Global Warming, response options, and the linkage to the sustainable development.

    What does the report mean to developed countries and to developing countries?

    SR15 was drafted in global response to climate change, so did not target any particular country. For IPCC the report must be policy relevant but not prescribed. It highlights four key messages. First, climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods worldwide. Second, limiting warming to 1.5 C would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. Third, there are clear benefits to keeping warming to 1.5 C compared with 2 C, or higher. Fourth, limiting warming to 1.5 C can go hand-in-hand with achieving other world goals, such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty.

    As an objective assessment report, the report should be expected to be policy neutral and reflect possible impacts of 1.5 C warming and related pathways of emissions reduction. Limiting global warming to 1.5 C can reduce many risks of climate change and have multiple synergies with many sustainable development goals.

    Both developed and developing countries will be affected by warming to 1.5 C or 2 C, but it is true that some developing countries with weaker adaptive capacity may suffer more. If the pace and magnitude of emissions reductions not properly managed, stringent actions on emission reduction would have a negative impact on the development of regions that are highly dependent on fossil fuels.

    In addition, the net zero emissions of carbon dioxide is projected around 2050. Pathways of 1.5 C probably also need carbon dioxide removal practices related to land resources. If poorly managed and implemented, the large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal would compete with food productions and raise security concerns.

    Thus, appropriate design and implementation deep emissions reductions require a wide portfolio of options, proper management, considering local people’s needs, biodiversity, and other sustainable development dimensions.

    Regarding different situations in different countries, SR15 took strenuous efforts to close the gap and reach a consensus based on evidences of scientific findings. Through a strict, open and transparent preparation process, SR15, including the summary for policymakers and the underlying report, were drafted in an unbiased way, focusing on offering valuable information to policymakers.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change encouraged extensive participation and an open review process. In addition to 91 lead authors and 133 contributing authors, it invited 1,113 reviewers worldwide providing 42,001 reviewing comments. For all the comments, the authors addressed piece by piece. In the final stage, the summary for policymakers was discussed and approved line by line and eventually accepted by all governments.

    In conclusion, I believe the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C is an objective, balanced and authoritative report, reflecting the latest scientific knowledge of climate change in line with what governments and people expect to know.

    Zhai Panmao, chief scientist of the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences, and co-chair of Working Group I, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

        Zhai Panmao

    After rounds of strict experts and governments review and line by line approval processes, the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C was eventually accepted by all participating governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Oct 6. The report, also known as SR15, will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

    Why do we need the SR15 and to persue effort of limiting global warming to 1.5 C? Let’s take a look from a historical perspective. Since the Industrial times, more extensive exploitation and application of fossil fuels have continuously given rise to a concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists have observed many changes in the climate system never before seen, such as atmospheric and oceanic warming and melting glaciers. It thus became imperative for human beings to reduce their dangerous interference in the climate system, and looking at how to respond to threats from climate change to natural system and human society became the focus of global academia and policymakers.

    Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, controlling and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions has been put on top of the agenda for all 195 participating nations as a way of dealing with climate change. In December 2015 all nations of the framework convention approved the Paris Agreement that makes it explicit to “holding the increase in the global average temperature increase to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels”.

    For many regions that are more vulnerable and exposed to the drastic climate change risks, a temperature rise of 2 C will have a much greater impact more than they can cope with. So in the Decision of COP 21 of the UNFCCC to adopt the Paris Agreement in December 2015, it contained an invitation to the IPCC to “provide a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways" and the IPCC accepted the invitation in April 2016.

    By assessing as many as 6,000 pieces of scientific literature, SR15 presents the world the latest scientific findings on what global warming of 1.5 C would mean. It also offers emission pathways consistent with 1.5 C of Global Warming, response options, and the linkage to the sustainable development.

    What does the report mean to developed countries and to developing countries?

    SR15 was drafted in global response to climate change, so did not target any particular country. For IPCC the report must be policy relevant but not prescribed. It highlights four key messages. First, climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods worldwide. Second, limiting warming to 1.5 C would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. Third, there are clear benefits to keeping warming to 1.5 C compared with 2 C, or higher. Fourth, limiting warming to 1.5 C can go hand-in-hand with achieving other world goals, such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty.

    As an objective assessment report, the report should be expected to be policy neutral and reflect possible impacts of 1.5 C warming and related pathways of emissions reduction. Limiting global warming to 1.5 C can reduce many risks of climate change and have multiple synergies with many sustainable development goals.

    Both developed and developing countries will be affected by warming to 1.5 C or 2 C, but it is true that some developing countries with weaker adaptive capacity may suffer more. If the pace and magnitude of emissions reductions not properly managed, stringent actions on emission reduction would have a negative impact on the development of regions that are highly dependent on fossil fuels.

    In addition, the net zero emissions of carbon dioxide is projected around 2050. Pathways of 1.5 C probably also need carbon dioxide removal practices related to land resources. If poorly managed and implemented, the large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal would compete with food productions and raise security concerns.

    Thus, appropriate design and implementation deep emissions reductions require a wide portfolio of options, proper management, considering local people’s needs, biodiversity, and other sustainable development dimensions.

    Regarding different situations in different countries, SR15 took strenuous efforts to close the gap and reach a consensus based on evidences of scientific findings. Through a strict, open and transparent preparation process, SR15, including the summary for policymakers and the underlying report, were drafted in an unbiased way, focusing on offering valuable information to policymakers.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change encouraged extensive participation and an open review process. In addition to 91 lead authors and 133 contributing authors, it invited 1,113 reviewers worldwide providing 42,001 reviewing comments. For all the comments, the authors addressed piece by piece. In the final stage, the summary for policymakers was discussed and approved line by line and eventually accepted by all governments.

    In conclusion, I believe the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C is an objective, balanced and authoritative report, reflecting the latest scientific knowledge of climate change in line with what governments and people expect to know.

    Zhai Panmao, chief scientist of the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences, and co-chair of Working Group I, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

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