Environment

5 things you can do now in response to the UN's terrifying new climate report

There needs to be "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."

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“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, “ the report’s authors, who form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said in a press release.

The report, which came out on Sunday, involves the input of more than 90 leading climate scientists. It paints a nightmarish picture of the planet’s evolution in the coming decades, according to the New Yorker. Vox notes that significant action has to be taken within the next 12 years for enough momentum to be created to stave off catastrophe.

If global temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which is expected to happen by 2040, then hundreds of millions of people will be displaced, many island countries will vanish under rising sea levels, critical crop yields will plummet, forest fires will ravage wider and wider areas of land, and deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue will spread to new regions.

The 1.5 degrees Celsius mark is one of the goals of the Paris climate agreement and, based on current projections, it’s unlikely. In fact, the Paris climate agreement’s other goal — of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius — is also very unlikely. The IPCC report predicts that temperatures will rise by more than 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.

To make matters worse, the environmental consequences that were expected following a 2 degrees Celsius rise are now expected to occur after an increase of 1.5 degrees.

"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I, which assessed the scientific aspects of climate change, in the press release.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems," said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, which looked at the socioeconomic and natural consequences of climate change, added.

These dire warnings are happening against a backdrop of countries reneging on environmental commitments and doubling down on fossil fuel use.

The United States has dismantled scores of climate change regulations and rules, China is vastly increasing its coal fleet, Brazil’s front-running presidential candidate announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement if elected, and Australia recently announced plans to expand its use of coal.

But not all is lost — many countries are taking action to transition to sustainable economies.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate," said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of Working Group I.

And individuals around the world are often leading this charge by taking action in their everyday lives. Here are five things you can do in response to the IPCC report.

1. Demand action from politicians

2. Learn more about the divestment movement

3. Demand companies reduce their ecological footprints

4. Make your home more efficient

5. Lifestyle changes

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