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Australia has two decades to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change

Iain Stewart writes in The Conversation (8.10.18) about the latest IPCC report on global warming, which suggests that the world needs to be carbon-neutral by mid-century to give ourselves a chance of holding global warming to 1.5C. The author points out that, with around 1% of the global carbon budget, Australia needs to rapidly do its share of reducing emissions.

‘The long-awaited special report on the science underpinning the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5℃ has been released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

‘It tells us that hitting this goal will be challenging, but not impossible. And it highlights the benefits of hitting the target, by pointing out that global warming will be vastly more damaging if allowed to reach 2℃.

‘… Based on previous calculations, Australia’s fair share of the global carbon budget is roughly equivalent to 1%. That would put Australia’s remaining carbon budget at 5.5Gt and 7.5Gt for a 66% and 50% chance, respectively.

‘… In practical terms, this gives Australia two decades to deliver on our part, for a good chance of avoiding the most devastating impacts of a warming climate. Globally, we must reach net zero greenhouse emissions by 2047 for a 66% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5℃, and by 2058 for a 50% chance. Australia will have to hit net zero before it is achieved globally because we currently have among the highest per person emissions, so our decarbonisation trajectory needs to be steeper.’

Great Barrier Reef faces dire threat with 2C global warming, UN report says

Adam Morton reports in The Guardian (8.10.18) on the IPCC report’s implications for the Great Barrier Reef, and for Australia’s coal export industry.

‘Limiting global warming to 1.5C rather than 2C would likely be the difference between the survival of some Great Barrier Reef coral and its complete decline, according to the latest United Nations assessment of climate change science.

‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, released in South Korea on Monday, found coral reefs were likely to decline between 70% and 90% if the temperature increased to that level. If global warming reaches 2C, more than 99% of coral reefs were projected to decline.

‘Scientists said it underlined the need for urgent global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions – including a rapid withdrawal of coal-fired electricity, a shift that would have major implications not only for Australia’s power grid, but one of its largest export industries.

‘Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coordinating lead author on the report and a coral reefs expert with the University of Queensland, said there was a distinct difference in the amount of coral that would remain under the two warming scenarios.’

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