Former Vice President Al Gore warned that “time is running out” after the release of a U.N. special report that gives the world 12 years to head off climate calamity by radically transforming “all aspects of society.”
“The report will encourage the development of new technologies, which is important,” Mr. Gore said in a statement. “However, time is running out, so we must capitalize and build on the solutions available today.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report called for achieving “net zero emissions” by 2050 to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, from pre-industrial levels.
“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chairwoman of IPCC Working Group II, in a statement.
Such a goal would require trillions of dollars to achieve “‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities,” including using unproven technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the air.
“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, co-chairman of IPCC Working Group III.
The report fired up activists even as critics dismissed the deadline as another arbitrary “climate tipping point,” as Climate Depot’s Marc Morano put it.
“U.N. issues yet another climate tipping point — Humans given only 12 more years to make ‘unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,’” he wrote.
Former George Tech atmospheric-sciences professor Judith A. Curry described the report’s conclusions as the “same old, same old,” based on questionable climate models, rather than on “new science or better ways of assessing uncertainty.”
“Even with erroneous attribution of extreme weather/climate events and projections using climate models that are running too hot and not fit for purpose of projecting 21st century climate change, the IPCC still has not made a strong case for this massive investment to prevent 1.5C warming,” she said on her Climate Etc. blog.
RealClimateScience.com’s Tony Heller ticked off past failed predictions of global-warming disaster, such as a 1989 U.N. warning that “entire nations could be wiped from the face of the earth” by rising seas unless global warming was reversed by 2000.
He posted a video Sunday on YouTube titled, “(Always) Ten Years Left to Save the Planet.”
“Every 10 years, climate scientists say we have 10 years left to save the planet,” Mr. Heller said. “Sometimes they want to save it from global warming, other times they say they want to save it from global cooling.”
Meanwhile, the climate group 350.org said the report supports the call for a halt to the use of oil, gas and coal and a “rapid transition to energy systems based on 100 percent renewable energy.”
“Within the next decade or so, we will need to radically change the way we build our houses, move from one place to another and grow our food,” said 350.org in a statement.
The report drew dire headlines such as CNN’s “12 years to stop climate catastrophe” and The Washington Post’s “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say.”
NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt called such characterizations “neither correct nor helpful.”
“Making better decisions on emissions is always going to be helpful — whether it’s now, in 5 years or in 20 years,” Mr. Schmidt tweeted.
The report’s release is expected to energize the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, scheduled for December in Katowice, Poland, which marks the deadline for nations implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 instead of 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, as called for under the Paris climate agreement, would curtail global sea level rise, reduction of Arctic sea ice, and the decline of coral reefs, according to the report.
President Trump announced in June that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris accord, which was not ratified by the Senate, saying it would put the U.S. economy at a global disadvantage. The United States already leads the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Mr. Gore, who said the report illustrated the need for “an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy,” took a shot at the Trump administration’s energy and environmental policies.
“Solving the climate crisis requires leadership,” Mr. Gore said. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel energies of the past.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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