Earth's temperature will cross the threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius, if urgent actions are not taken to curb global warming. The leaked final draft report of UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned, "if emissions continue at their present rate, human induced warming will exceed 1.5 degree by around 2040."
The report says that countries can keep the temperature below 1.5 degree rise only with "rapid and far reaching" transitions to clean energy. The limit of 1.5 degree celsius is considered as a "safe limit" by scientists to deal with the effects, however many low-lying countries are battling for their survival even at less than 1 degree of average global warming. The report - which is main scientific guide for combating climate change - was submitted to United Nations on 4th June to invite comments from governments and it was scheduled to be published this October.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degree celsius is significant as it elaborates on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degree celsius above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The report does that "in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, to governments."
The rising temperature of the planet manifests not only in extreme and erratic weather conditions like incessant rain, drought and frequent floods but also causes sea level to rise. Experts say this warning is especially important for a fast-growing economy such as India, which has a large population dependent on climate sensitive sectors and coastal economy.
"Climate impacts continue to throw the economies out of gear and destroy people's home and occupations. Developing countries are now facing the new challenge of global warming on top of their efforts of poverty eradication. In the wake of climate change, India has a triple challenge of greening its economy, taking a large section out of poverty and keeping them safe from climate impacts" says Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia.
The transition to clean energy remains fundamental to reduce heat-trapping gases alongside increasing the green cover to slow global warming. Besides, the government needs to invest money and effort to climate-proof its infrastructure, economy as well as protect its people from the increasing disasters.
Rich countries on the other hand have been dragging their feet in increasing their emission reduction targets in line with their contribution to the problem of global warming. Instead of drastically cutting down their emissions, as also the new IPCC report demands, they are busy promoting high-end "negative emission" technologies such as removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it on land, underground or in the oceans.
Teresa Anderson, Climate Policy Officer for ActionAid International says, "The IPCC report must serve as a global fire alarm, to wake up sleepwalking governments. The report is clear that we can't rely on dubious fantasy technologies to fix the problem at some point in the future.
"In particular, we need to see wealthy, polluting, industrialised countries that have contributed the most to the climate problem using their wealth to rapidly accelerate the global transition to greener economies. We can do it, if we really want to," says Ms Anderson.
In 2015, almost 200 nations signed a climate pact known as 'Paris Agreement' to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and protect people from the impacts. India has also committed to build capacity of generating 175 GW clean energy by 2022 and increase its forest cover.
However, the US under the Trump administration announced withdrawal from Paris deal and since then has declined to meet its obligation of providing any finance to developing countries. Although, other nations continue to frame implementation guidelines or "Paris Rulebook" to be finalised at the end of year in Poland.
"The good news is that the 1.5 degree celsius goal is still within reach, if governments take the challenge much more seriously, and scale up action in line with what is required," Ms Anderson hopes.