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Limiting warming to 1.5c is not impossible but unprecedented transition needed

Climate change is more severe than we had anticipated but it is within our power to make the fundamental changes needed to defeat it, that is the message from climate experts this week.

In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which is the global objective authority on climate change, makes clear that we are already dealing with the fallout of 1C warming and we need deep and fundamental changes to stop warming.

Environmentalists are now calling on European Governments to listen to IPCC scientists’ warnings about the need for unprecedented action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

Roland Joebstl, EEB Senior Policy Officer for Climate and Energy said:

The science is unequivocally clear, European leaders have failed to act responsibly in the last 10 years, we don’t have another 10, 5, 2 or even 1 year. Europe must leave coal, oil and gas in the ground and fully embrace energy efficiency, renewables and a circular economy without further delay. Anything less than a cast-iron commitment to 1.5 degrees will be too little, too late.

Environment ministers meeting tomorrow to agree the EU’s position ahead of the crunch COP24 climate talks must respond to IPCC report with appropriate urgency. The world cannot afford for Europe to hide behind outdated targets and for governments to try to ‘get away’ with just 80% cuts by 2050. We must reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, waiting until 2050 will have devastating repercussions.

The IPPC report lays out in details the significant additional damage that would be caused by 2 degrees of global warming. The impact is worse than was thought.

The report also shows that without additional action world temperatures are set to rise by 3 degrees or more and that insufficient action since the Paris agreement was signed has meant valuable time has been lost.

However, the report is optimistic that it is not too late to meet the 1.5 degree target, if significant action is undertaken. Such action is also likely to help the world to meet key sustainable development objectives and reduce other harmful side-effects of extracting and burning fossil fuels, including harmful air pollution.

According to the European Environment Agency (EEA) the annual cost of climate change damages in Europe has already reached €13.3 billion. Delays and current inaction for missing 1.5 degree risk a 3- to 10-fold increase of costs in the future (JRC PESETA I and II studies).