Scientists have been warning us for years that we can expect to see more extreme weather with climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international body of practicing scientists who are experts in their field, has gathered in Incheon, Republic of Korea, where they will launch the UN Special Report on 1.5°C (SR1.5).
The UN Report on 1.5° forms a major scientific undertaking, compiling all the latest climate change research in one single document spanning over 800 pages. It will inform policy makers and global leaders of the impacts their policy decisions will have on global warming and sustainable development.
“At the time the Paris Agreement was decided on, there was not yet so much scientific knowledge of what the 1.5° limit - the Paris goal of keeping global warming below 1.5° of average global warming - actually means,”Jonathan Lynn, head of communications at the IPCC explains to me.
The Paris Agreement, created in 2015 and due to be implemented from 2020 onward, sets a long-term goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C.
“Global Leaders at the Paris summit then tasked the IPCC to compile a report of all known science on the global impacts that the warming of 1.5° compared to 2°C would have on the world,” Lynn clarifies.
The 1.5° report describes the impacts of global warming on natural and human systems, but also includes research on the different pathways necessary to mitigate the causes of climate change, as well as the effects of global warming on sustainable development, poverty eradication and reducing inequalities.
“Scientists have been warning us for years that we can expect to see more extreme weather with climate change. The heat waves, wildfires, and heavy rainfall events of recent months all over the world underscore these warnings,” Hoesung Lee, the chair of the IPCC, declared at the opening on the one-week gathering in the Republic of Korea.
"Science alerts us to the gravity of the situation, but science also, and this special report in particular, helps us understand the solutions available to us,” Lee explained.
At the meeting this week in the Republic of Korea, representatives of the IPCC’s 195 members governments will agree to a Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that will accompany the full report. Both the summary and full report will be made publicly available on Monday October 8.
“Overall, it is essential that the report is approved at the session in Korea and not blocked by countries hoping to undermine rapid climate action,” Sven Harmeling from CARE International wrote in a piece for Reuters. “It has been a tremendous scientific exercise, triggering and processing a wave of new findings.”
The 1.5° report will feed into decisions made at the upcoming UN climate summit in Poland (COP24), this December. Many environmental organisations hope the science report will activate political commitments for stronger climate targets by 2020.
Arthur Wyns is an external scientific reviewer for the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°. He is the program manager of Climate Tracker, an organisation supporting environmental journalists worldwide to bring climate change into their national debates. He tweets from @ArthurWyns