European and Mediterranean safety and prosperity depends on limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C

In 2015, world countries committed “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels” when adopting the Paris Agreement. To monitor implementation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) asked scientists across the world to assess impacts associated with the 1.5°C goal and emission reductions.

The findings highlight that crossing this threshold can have severe consequences such as sea level rise, extreme weather events and damages to ecosystems. In the case of Europe, these impacts can turn into a threat-multiplier and thus increase migration flows, geopolitical instability, negative impacts on infrastructure and public health or access to food and water. Instead, limiting warming to 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C would likely provide benefits to the global economy of more than $20 trillion by 2100.

eco-union is active in finding solutions on climate change issues through numerous initiatives and projects. Projects such Green Finance, Green Economy, Blue Tourism and PROSEU (Prosumers for the Energy Union) aimed at contributing to achieving the 1.5°C goal. 

What are the main scientific findings published in the IPCC report?

·Current pledges made under the Paris Agreement (“Nationally Determined Contributions”) are only sufficient to limit global warming to 3°C or more.

·Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth 1.5°C of global warming are more severe than expected and increase further with 2°C.

·Meeting the 1.5°C limit is technically and economically feasible and comes with a range of benefits.

·Staying below 1.5°C implies reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2070: CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero already by 2050 and non-CO2 emissions reach net-zero around 2075.

·Over-reliance on unproven CO2-removal technologies is risky and the capacity of natural solutions (land-use change and afforestation) is limited, even though it will be necessary for 1.5°C and “well below 2°C”.

·Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals will be much more difficult under 2°C warming than with 1.5°C.

Which are the key points extracted from the document?

·Working to stabilize global temperature increase at 1.5°C will substantially improve safety and security of European societies, ecosystems and economic activities.

Already now, with global temperatures at about 1°C above pre-industrial levels, Europe experiences a wide range of impacts associated with climate change more severely and frequently than expected. With increasing global warming, different parts of Europe will be affected unevenly: Coastal cities, regions and Southern Europe are most vulnerable in terms of sea level rise, droughts or water scarcity. Global and domestic food supply will also be one of the risk focuses with the increased frequency of extreme weather events, expansion of deserts, warming of the oceans, sea level rise and soil degradation.
Climate change is expected to become a more severe driver for migration as it is reshaping the map of livable areas worldwide: rising sea levels, higher surface temperature, and disruptions in water cycles are making crop-killing, droughts and flooding rains more common, impacting on human prosperity.

Stabilizing the temperature will decrease the risk of tipping points affecting migration flows to Europe, agricultural yields and food production or the safety of coastal towns and cities – especially for Southern and Eastern Europe.
Society will gain the most in terms of health: There will be less local and regional air pollution as cleaner forms of mobility, power generation and heating are adopted.

·Transformational change in all sectors over the next decade can prevent the worst impacts and leverage the benefits for economy and society.

A variety of low-carbon technologies exist already that can be deployed at large scale. Stringent policies, especially on shifting financial flows, can ensure the faster deployment across the EU, unlocking investments and innovation potential.

·A common strategy will strengthen the cooperation within the EU and with the most vulnerable countries

Many countries and actors already committed to net-zero emission goals or aim to draft long-term plans accordingly. 19 countries – of which 12 Europeans – have recently launched a carbon neutrality coalition, pledging to develop national decarbonization pathways for 2050 within the next two years. Different public and private actors across the EU have also set themselves Paris-compatible targets, in the expectation that the transition to a net-zero emission economy and society will create new opportunities.
The IPCC findings are pivotal to upgrade international and domestic cooperation ahead of COP24. A strong response by the EU, backing the scientific evidence and committing to revise its emission pathways to 2030 and 2050, can strengthen partnerships with the vulnerable countries and assure European citizens that they will be protected.
Source: IPCC, Clean Economy Briefing