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Global warming must not exceed 1.5C, warns landmark UN report
by IPCC, WMO, UN News, agencies
Feb. 2019
World Meteorological Organization confirms past 4 years were warmest on record
In a clear sign of continuing long-term climate change associated with record atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been confirmed as the four warmest years on record.
A consolidated analysis by the World Meteorological Organization of five leading international datasets showed that the global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1.0° Celsius (with a margin of error of ±0.13°C) above the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900). It ranks as the fourth warmest year on record.
The year 2016, which was influenced by a strong El-Niño event, remains the warmest year on record (1.2°C above preindustrial baseline). Global average temperatures in 2017 and 2015 were both 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.
The latter two years are virtually indistinguishable because the difference is less than one hundredth of a degree, which is less than the statistical margin of error.
“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one, “ said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”
“Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018,” he said.
“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority,” said Mr Taalas.
Dec. 2018
Countries are failing to take the action needed to stave off the worst effects of climate change, the 2018 Global Emissions report released by UNEP has found, and the commitments made in the 2015 Paris agreement will not be met unless governments introduce additional measures as a matter of urgency.
New taxes on fossil fuels, investment in clean technology and much stronger government policies to bring down emissions are necessary. Governments must also stop subsidising fossil fuels, directly and indirectly, the UN said.
Gunnar Luderer, one of the authors of the UN report and senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “There is still a tremendous gap between words and deeds, between the targets agreed by governments and the measures to achieve these goals.
“Only a rapid turnaround here can help. Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 [to keep warming to no more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels] and for 1.5C emissions would have to be halved.”
The report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose again during 2017, highlighting the imperative for countries to deliver on the Paris Agreement to keep global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The report comes just days before the key UN climate change conference known as COP 24, taking place in Katowice, Poland, with the agency urging nations to triple their efforts to curb harmful emissions.
The UNEP report comes hot on the heels of the watershed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global warming, released in October, which cautioned that emissions had to stop rising now, in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and reduce the risks for the well-being of the planet and its people.
“If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”
Heat-trapping CO2 gas in the atmosphere is largely responsible for rising global temperatures, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. UNEP’s 2018 Global Emissions Report, show global emissions have reached historic levels.
Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons in 2017, an increase of 0.7 compared with 2016.
“In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C respectively,” said the report.
What’s worse, the report notes that there is no sign of reversal of this trend and that only 57 countries (representing 60 per cent of global emissions) are on track to bridge their “emissions gap” – meaning the gap between where we are likely to be and where we need to be.
Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap published in this year’s report is larger than ever.
UNEP highlighted that while “momentum from the private sector” and “untapped potential from innovation and green-financing” offer “pathways” to bridge the emissions gap globally, the “technical feasibility” of limiting global warming to 1.5°C “is dwindling”.
The authors of the report note that nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action without further delay, in order to meet the 2°C-rise limit by mid-century. To meet the 1.5°C limit, they would have to increase their climate efforts five fold. A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of at least 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings.
“The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen,” said UNEP.
The report comes at the end of a year that''s seen a record-setting heat wave cover much of the globe, devastating hurricanes hit North America and Asia and the most lethal and destructive wildfire in California''s history. It also comes on the heels of an earlier report from the UN and one released by the U.S. government last week that underscore the risks of failing to limit greenhouse gas emissions to slow climate change.
"The urgency of this message is getting louder and louder for the everyday public, and the climate impacts are definitely outpacing our response," said Kelly Levin, a lead author of the report and a senior associate at the World Resources Institute. "This gap in action is contributing to many of the impacts we are seeing around the world."
Many of the world''s leading economies, including the United States and the European Union, are failing to meet the pledges they made under the Paris Agreement, the report says.
Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “The window of opportunity is starting to close and if we fail to act now the opportunity will be gone. Failure to act will lock in catastrophic global warming that will change the planet irrevocably and condemn millions to suffering. What are governments waiting for?”
The new report highlights a range of policies that can help keep emissions in check.
Most G20 nations can take actions to end fossil fuel subsidies, phase out coal-fired power plants, implement policies to boost industrial efficiency and increase support for the use of renewable energy to heat and cool buildings.
Broadly speaking, the largest potential for emissions cuts lies in three areas, the report says: boosting wind and solar power, improving efficiency of household appliances and cars, and stopping deforestation while allowing new forests to grow.
The report also says carbon prices offer tremendous room for improvement. About half the world''s emissions do not carry any price or tax. The report cites various studies to say that adopting a carbon tax of $70 per ton could, along with other policies, lead to emissions cuts of up to 40 percent in some countries.
The most important takeaway from the report may be the simplest: even if all the world''s governments were to meet their most ambitious pledges made so far to cut emissions, they would fall far short of the larger goals of limiting warming. Sooner or later, net emissions from the use of fossil fuels must hit zero for warming to end.
"Now more than ever," the report says, "unprecedented and urgent action is required by all nations."
* IPCC Summary (34pp):
Nov. 2018
Climate change impacts continue in 2018. (World Meteorological Organization)
The long-term warming trend has continued in 2018, with the average global temperature set to be the fourth highest on record. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Other tell-tale signs of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification and sea-ice and glacier melt continue, whilst extreme weather left a trail of devastation on all continents, according to the WMO provisional Statement on the State of the Climate in 2018. It includes details of impacts of climate change based on contributions from a wide range of United Nations partners.
The report shows that the global average temperature for the first ten months of the year was nearly 1°C above the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900). This is based on five independently maintained global temperature data sets.
“We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels and if the current trend continues we may see temperature increases 3-5°C by the end of the century. If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the temperature rise will be considerably higher,” he said.
“It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it,” said Mr Taalas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C reported that the average global temperature for the decade 2006-2015 was 0.86°C above the pre-industrial baseline. The average increase above the same baseline for the most recent decade 2009-2018 was about 0.93°C and for the past five years, 2014-2018, was 1.04°C above the pre-industrial baseline.
“These are more than just numbers,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova.
“Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life. It makes a difference to economic productivity, food security, and to the resilience of our infrastructure and cities. It makes a difference to the speed of glacier melt and water supplies, and the future of low-lying islands and coastal communities. Every extra bit matters,” said Ms Manaenkova.
Nov. 2018
Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere reach new record. (WMO)
Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). There is no sign of a reversal in this trend, which is driving long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more extreme weather.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also rose, whilst there was a resurgence of a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance called CFC-11, which is regulated under an international agreement to protect the ozone layer.
Since 1990, there has been a 41% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate - by long-lived greenhouse gases. CO2 accounts for about 82% of the increase in radiative forcing over the past decade, according to figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quoted in the WMO Bulletin.
“The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth. The window of opportunity for action is almost closed,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” said Mr Taalas.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and the oceans. About a quarter of the total emissions is absorbed by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere.
A separate Emissions Gap Report by UN Environment (UNEP), to be released on 27 November, tracks the policy commitments made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The WMO and UNEP reports come on top of the scientific evidence provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. This said that net emissions of CO2 must reach zero (the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere must equal the amount that is removed by sinks, natural and technological) around 2050 in order to keep temperature increases to below 1.5°C. It showed how keeping temperature increases below 2°C would reduce the risks to human well-being, ecosystems and sustainable development.
“CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. There is currently no magic wand to remove all the excess CO2 from the atmosphere,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova.
“Every fraction of a degree of global warming matters, and so does every part per million of greenhouse gases,” she said.
Together, the reports provide a scientific base for decision-making in UN climate change negotiations.
“The new IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C shows that deep and rapid reductions of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be needed in all sectors of society and the economy. The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, showing a continuing rising trend in concentrations of greenhouse gases, underlines just how urgent these emissions reductions are,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.
* 2018 report - Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: shaping the health of nations for centuries to come:
* IPCC Summary (34pp):
Oct. 2018
Global warming must not exceed 1.5C, warns landmark UN report. (IPCC, news agencies)
In a stark new warning, the world’s leading climate scientists have shown that global warming must be kept to a maximum of 1.5C to lessen the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched in Incheon in South Korea after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries that saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears.
“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”
Policymakers commissioned the report at the Paris climate talks in 2016, but since then the gap between science and politics has widened. Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the US – the world’s biggest source of historical emissions – from the accord. There were fears that the first round of Brazil’s presidential election would put Jair Bolsonaro into a strong position to carry out his threat to do the same and also open the Amazon rainforest to agribusiness.
The world is currently 1C warmer than preindustrial levels. Following devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening and warns that every fraction of additional warming will worsen the impact.
Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. “We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial,” Roberts said.
At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C, it notes. Food scarcity would be less of a problem and hundreds of millions fewer people, particularly in poor countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty.
At 2C extremely hot days, such as those experienced in the northern hemisphere this summer, would become more severe and common, increasing heat-related deaths and causing more forest fires.
But the greatest difference would be to nature. Insects, which are vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2C compared with 1.5C. Corals would be 99% lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10% have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached.
Sea-level rise would affect 10 million more people by 2100 if the half-degree extra warming brought a forecast 10cm additional pressure on coastlines. The number affected would increase substantially in the following centuries due to locked-in ice melt.
Oceans are already suffering from elevated acidity and lower levels of oxygen as a result of climate change. One model shows marine fisheries would lose 3m tonnes at 2C, twice the decline at 1.5C.
Sea ice-free summers in the Arctic, which is warming two to three times fast than the world average, would come once every 100 years at 1.5C, but every 10 years with half a degree more of global warming.
Time and carbon budgets are running out. By mid-century, a shift to the lower goal would require a supercharged roll-back of emissions sources that have built up over the past 250 years.
The IPCC maps out several pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.
Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. But the costs of doing nothing would be far higher.
“We have presented governments with pretty hard choices. We have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that,” said Jim Skea, a co-chair of the working group on mitigation. “We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will. We cannot answer that. Only our audience can – and that is the governments that receive it.”
He said the main finding of his group was the need for urgency. Although unexpectedly good progress has been made in the adoption of renewable energy, deforestation for agriculture was turning a natural carbon sink into a source of emissions. Carbon capture and storage projects, which are essential for reducing emissions in the concrete and waste disposal industries, have also ground to a halt.
Reversing these trends is essential if the world has any chance of reaching 1.5C without relying on the untried technology of solar radiation modification and other forms of geo-engineering, which the IPCC says may not work and could have negative consequences.
Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said the final document was “incredibly conservative” because it did not mention the likely rise in climate-driven refugees or the danger of tipping points that could push the world on to an irreversible path of extreme warming.
The report will be presented to governments at the UN climate conference in Poland at the end of this year. But analysts say there is much work to be done, with even pro-Paris deal nations involved in fossil fuel extraction that runs against the spirit of their commitments. Britain is pushing ahead with gas fracking, Norway with oil exploration in the Arctic, and the German government wants to tear down Hambach forest to dig for coal.
At the current level of commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 4C of warming. The report authors are refusing to accept defeat, believing the increasingly visible damage caused by climate change will shift opinion their way.
“I hope this can change the world,” said Jiang Kejun of China’s semi-governmental Energy Research Institute, who is one of the authors. “Two years ago, even I didn’t believe 1.5C was possible but when I look at the options I have confidence it can be done.”
There is more awareness among the population about the problem of rising temperatures. “People in Beijing have never experienced so many hot days as this summer. It’s made them talk more about climate change.”
James Hansen, the former Nasa scientist who helped raised the alarm about climate change, said both 1.5C and 2C would take humanity into uncharted and dangerous territory because they were both well above the Holocene-era range in which human civilisation developed. But he said there was a huge difference between the two: “1.5C gives young people and the next generation a fighting chance of getting back to the Holocene or close to it. That is probably necessary if we want to keep shorelines where they are and preserve our coastal cities.”
Johan Rockström, a co-author of the recent Hothouse Earth report, said scientists never previously discussed 1.5C, which was initially seen as a political concession to small island states. But he said opinion had shifted in the past few years along with growing evidence of climate instability and the approach of tipping points that might push the world off a course that could be controlled by emissions reductions.
“Climate change is occurring earlier and more rapidly than expected. Even at the current level of 1C warming, it is painful,” he told the Guardian. “This report is really important. It has a scientific robustness that shows 1.5C is not just a political concession. There is a growing recognition that 2C is dangerous.”
Oct. 2018
IPCC Report: 1.5 Degrees Global Warming means Worsening Droughts, Extreme Weather and Damage. (InsideClimate News)
Without a radical transformation of energy, transportation and agriculture systems, the world will hurtle past the 1.5 degree Celsius target of the Paris climate agreement by the middle of the century, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Failing to cap global warming near that threshold dramatically increases risks to human civilization and the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth, according to the latest IPCC report.
To keep warming under 1.5°C, countries will have to cut global CO2 emissions 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050, the report found, re-affirming previous conclusions about the need to end fossil fuel burning. Short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, will have to be significantly reduced as well.
More than 1.5°C warming means nearly all of the planet''s coral reefs will die, droughts and heat waves will continue to intensify, and an additional 10 million people will face greater risks from rising sea level, including deadly storm surges and flooded coastal zones. Most at risk are millions of people in less developed parts of the world, the panel warned.
The report is a follow-up to the 2015 Paris Agreement and shows how climate risks to society will dramatically increase if the average global temperature rises more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Through 2017, the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had already warmed the world by about 1°C.
"Currently, we are on pace to blow past 1.5 degrees Celsius in a couple decades," said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann. Even under the current base-case scenario, with the emissions cuts pledged in Paris, the world is on track to warm between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius, he said.
"Every half-degree matters, and 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5C warming shouldn''t be thought of as cliffs we walk off. A better analogy is a minefield. The further out on to that minefield we go, the more explosions we are likely to set off," he said.
In particular, the new report spells out the difference between warming 1.5°C and 2°C, based on thousands of new scientific research papers published during the past few years.
The scientific research underlying the report is more certain than ever that the risk of extreme and deadly heat waves increases. The increase from 1.5°C to 2°C pushes extreme heat events past the upper limit of variability and a new climate regime, particularly in tropical regions. It also suggests that:
Risks from extreme precipitation events would increase dramatically with 2°C warming, especially in eastern Asia and eastern North America. Sea level would rise about 4 inches more with 2°C of warming than with 1.5°C, affecting 10 million more people. An extra 580,000 to 1 million square miles of permafrost would thaw at 2°C compared to 1.5°C. At 1.5°C of warming, the Arctic is forecast to be ice-free once per century; at 2°C warming, that would happen once every 10 years.
What is Missing from the IPCC Report?
Despite these projections, some groups closely watching the process say the final version of the report—which had to be approved by all 195 IPCC member nations—doesn''t do enough to warn world leaders about the grim consequences of reaching potential climate tipping points that could trigger conflicts over resources and mass migration.
"I was a reviewer on an earlier draft and was concerned that it left out some of the most important risks governments need to be aware of," said Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
"There was no mention of the potential for conflicts and mass displacement of people, which is of huge concern to governments. There wasn''t much mention of tipping points. The IPCC has a reputation of not describing high-impact, low-probability events. There is evidence we may have already passed some key climate thresholds, including a meltdown of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which would raise sea level several meters in the next few centuries," he said.
There''s also a growing risk that warming will disrupt key ocean circulations, including currents that keep Europe mild despite its relatively high latitude, Ward said. That could have dramatic consequences, including a Scandinavian-like climate for temperate parts of Western Europe.
"Those concerns have been documented very clearly the last few years. It would be inexplicable if you don''t talk about some of these biggest risks in the summary for policymakers," he said.
Numbers from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide a solid foundation for those concerns: weather-related events displaced 23.5 million people in 2016. IFRC President Francesco Rocca said half of the organization''s operations are in response to weather-related disasters, which are compounded by "climate shocks and stresses."
"It is difficult to comprehend the scale of crises confronting vulnerable communities in a world that is 1.5°C or 2.0°C hotter," he said in a statement reacting to the IPCC report.
University of Florida sea level rise expert Andrea Dutton said she hopes the new report will help clarify global warming threats for the public, especially the risk of sea level rise in coastal areas.
"What sounds like small increments in temperature can have devastating effects in terms of climate impacts on growing human populations," she said. "This report is not about whether the planet can withstand another half-degree increase in temperature. It is about understanding whether we can withstand it. Small temperature changes can have far-reaching impacts on our ability to survive on this planet."
Satellite measurements from recent years show sea level rising faster than expected, and new data from ancient ice layers, tree rings and other sources suggest the polar ice sheets are more vulnerable to extensive melting at 1.5°C warming than previously believed.
"So, it is all doom and gloom? No, because every increment of progress we can make to keep the temperature from climbing even higher will make a difference," Dutton said. "The steps that need to be taken to abate the worst outcomes require leadership at every level. My hope is that this report will encourage and empower that leadership."
Existing pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions submitted under the Paris Agreement don''t come close to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, or even 2°C; scientists say they would result in closer to 3 or 4°C of warming. To stay under 1.5°C warming without relying on unproven CO2 removal technology means CO2 emissions must be cut in half by 2030, according to the report.
The report should be a wakeup call to the world to start acting now, said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a climate science and policy think tank.
"This report shows that dealing with climate change will become more dangerous and more expensive the longer we wait. Governments must get ready to commit to much more aggressive climate targets by 2020 at the latest, and they have to ditch coal," he said.
According to the IPCC, renewable energy must make up more than half the global energy mix by 2050, and coal needs to be almost completely phased out by then.
Failing that, the world will have to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere in the second half of the century. If the average global temperature overshoots 1.5°C warming by just 0.2 degrees, CO2 removal would have to be deployed at a scale "that might not be achievable given considerable implementation challenges," the report says.
Christopher Weber, global lead scientist for climate and energy for the World Wildlife Fund, said State negotiators should focus on the underlying science.
"This is not a political negotiation, it''s a science report. We''re already seeing impacts like super storms, wildfires and heat waves from 1 degree of warming," he said. "This report underscores that many of the impacts we thought we would see at 2 degrees we will see sooner, and they may be unstoppable above that." IPCC Summary (34pp):
Sep. 2018
Rising temperatures will push millions of people into poverty
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report detailing progress and pathways to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Responding to the report, Raijeli Nicole, regional director for Oxfam in the Pacific said:
“Climate change has set our planet on fire, millions are already feeling the impacts, and the IPCC just showed that things can get much worse. The faster governments embrace the renewable energy revolution and move to protect communities at risk, the more lives and livelihoods will be spared.
“Every tenth of a degree of warming is a choice between life or death. At 1.1 degrees, we’re already witnessing the beginnings of massive displacement and a shocking rise in hunger, with women living in poverty suffering the most. It only gets worse from here.
“If we settle for 2 degrees, entire communities will be displaced, and tens, if not hundreds of millions more will be thrown into poverty.
“To do nothing more and simply follow the commitments made in the Paris Agreement condemns the world to 3 degrees of warming. The damage to our planet and humanity would be irreparable and exponentially worse.
“None of this is inevitable. What gives us hope is that some of the poorest and lowest emitting countries are now leading the climate fight. Rich countries must now follow suit.
“Time is short. There’s still a chance of keeping to 1.5 degrees of warming. The solutions are there – and they do not involve kicking poor farmers off their land to make way for carbon farming. Instead, we must focus on ending the use of fossils fuels – including putting a stop to new coal power stations.”
Sep. 2018
Climate change is a symptom of a broken economic model, says Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International
This week we learned that the number of extreme climate-related disasters in poor countries has shot up in the last 25 years. Worse still, the UN confirmed that global hunger is rising again, with our changing climate a leading cause. We''ve seen close to 10 years of progress in ending hunger reversed in the last 3 years. Oxfam has been warning for years that climate change would put the fight against hunger back by decades. It''s now happening before our eyes.
There is devastating human costs to delaying actions to bring greenhouse gas emissions down and support those on the frontlines of extreme weather. I see the human face of climate change in our work all over the world. More often than not, it''s a woman''s face I see. In unequal societies, women are far more likely to die in natural disasters. By some estimates, 80% of those forced to leave their homes by climate change are women.
Quick fixes won''t work. A root cause of this crisis lies in our broken economic model. Economic thinking that produces extreme inequality in our societies. Where a handful of the very rich, own more wealth than half the global population. It''s the same thinking that prioritises GDP growth above all else - masking the lives of people in poverty, obscuring the cost of economic activity to the environment and hiding from view the unpaid care work of billions of women around the world. It''s an economy - bluntly put - in which the environment and ordinary people are exploitable resources for the rich.
So if we are serious about keeping global warming below 1.5C - meaning net zero global emissions by mid-century - we need to re-think the very purpose of our public policies and of our businesses. We need a more human economy - one that prioritises the many over the few, and keeps within the boundaries our planet can bear.
In driving emissions down, it is increasingly developing countries that are leading the charge. Later this year, 49 of the most vulnerable are hosting the world''s first virtual climate summit to maintain momentum for climate action. They''ve agreed to a vision of 100% renewable energy by 2050. We''re seeing those least responsible for causing climate change, committing to do the most to tackle it.
One way for leaders to step up is to finally renounce coal power, the most polluting of all fossil fuels. Oxfam believes it is time for a worldwide end to coal - not a single new power plant should be built anywhere any more. Our research shows that every dollar invested in coal in Asia, for example, means $10 in damages from climate change. Health costs from local pollution come on top. It''s the economics of self-harm, and it''s time to end it. Climate change is the greatest humanitarian crisis we face. The time for tinkering is over. We must take action now.

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The private sector should not take lead in poverty alleviation
by Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
Oct. 2018
UN poverty expert warns against tsunami of unchecked privatisations.
Widespread privatisation of public goods in many societies is systematically eliminating human rights protections and further marginalising those living in poverty, according to a new report.
Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, criticised the extent to which the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and even the UN itself have aggressively promoted widespread privatisation of basic services, without regard to the human rights implications or the consequences for the poor. He also criticised human rights groups for not responding strongly enough to the resulting challenges.
“Privatising the provision of criminal justice, social protection, prisons, education, basic healthcare and other essential public goods cannot be done at the expense of throwing rights protections out of the window,” Alston said.
“States can’t dispense with their human rights obligations by delegating core services and functions to private companies on terms that they know will effectively undermine those rights for some people.”
He noted that while “proponents present privatisation as a technical solution for managing resources and reducing fiscal deficits, it has actually become an ideology of governance that devalues public goods, public spaces, compassion and a range of other values that are essential for a decent society.
“While privatisation’s proponents insist that it saves money, enhances efficiency, and improves services, the real world evidence very often challenges or contradicts these claims,” Alston said.
Privatisation is premised on fundamentally different assumptions from those that underpin respect for human rights, such as dignity and equality, he said. It inevitably prioritises profit, and sidelines considerations such as equality and non-discrimination. Rights-holders are transformed into clients, and those who are poor, needy, or troubled are marginalised or excluded.
Human rights criteria are absent from almost all privatisation agreements, which rarely include provisions for sustained monitoring of their impact on service provision and the poor.
“Existing human rights accountability mechanisms are clearly inadequate for dealing with the challenges of large-scale and widespread privatisation,” Alston said. “The human rights community can no longer ignore the consequences of privatisation and needs to radically reconsider its approach.”
Human rights actors should start by reclaiming the moral high ground and reasserting the central role of concepts such as equality, society, the public interest, and shared responsibilities, while challenging the assumption that privatisation should be the default approach.
“The human rights community needs to develop new methods that systematically confront the broader implication of widespread privatisation and ensure that human rights and accountability are at the centre of privatisation efforts,” Alston said.
There appear to be no limits to what states have privatised, he said. Public institutions and services across the world have been taken over by private companies dedicated to profiting from key parts of criminal justice systems and prisons, dictating educational priorities and approaches, deciding who will receive health interventions and social protection, and choosing what infrastructure will be built, where, and for whom, often with harsh consequences for the most marginalised.
“There is a real risk that the waves of privatisation experienced to date will soon be followed by a veritable tsunami,” Alston said.
Privatisation of social protection often leads to a focus on economic efficiency concerns that aim to minimise time spent per client, close cases earlier, generate fees wherever possible, and cater to those better-off, pushing those with less resources and more complex problems to the margins.
* Access the report:
Oct. 2018 (UN Radio)
The private sector “should not take the lead in poverty alleviation” but it should remain a key obligation of governments to improve the life of the poorest people across the world according to Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
The privatization of public services, such as health care, social protection, education and prisons, has been promoted by international organizations, such as the World Bank and “even the UN,” Mr. Alston told UN News, in an in-depth interview.
The Special Rapporteur believes countries like the United States are increasingly allowing profit-driven private companies, to run services for the estimated 40 million people who live in poverty in the US.
Daniel Dickinson sat down with Philip Alston to discuss his role as an independent observer of poverty and began by asking him what he had seen in the seven countries he has visited since 2014 when he became Special Rapporteur.
* Access the audio interview via the link below.

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