Sun | Apr 21, 2019

Earth Today | CARICOM preps for upcoming climate talks

Published:Thursday | November 1, 2018 | 12:15 AMPetre Williams-Raynor/Contributing Editor

THE Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius is reportedly on the table for discussion when Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries meet in Barbados later this month to prepare for the upcoming global climate talks in Poland in December.

The meeting, to be held on November 12 to 14, will comprise a two-day technical meeting and a one-day ministerial.

"Our ministers will issue a statement ... and CARICOM officials will be there," is the information out of the CARICOM Secretariat.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius was approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on October 6 in Incheon, Republic of Korea, following a week of deliberations involving governments and the scientists who worked on the report.

The report is expected to be a key scientific input into the United Nations climate conference from December 2-14 in Katowice, Poland, where governments will review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.




The historic Paris Agreement, inked in 2015, sees countries committing, among other things, to "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change".

Fast-forward three years and the special report on 1.5 degrees temperature rise and its SPM - which was given impetus by that agreement - tells us that it is possible to reach the 1.5 goal and that the world's prospects are better at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming than at two degrees, a position that has long been championed by CARICOM and other small island developing states.

"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of one degree Celsius 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, in a release from the IPCC.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems," added Hans-Otto Portner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Working Group I looks at the physical science basis of the climate system and climate change, while Working Group II looks at the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.




Meanwhile, the 1.5 special report also took stock of the pathways to limiting warming to 1.5, what it would take to get there, and the implications. The conclusions were that it would be a steep climb, but that it is possible.

"It (the report) opens the door to say it (1.5) is possible, but that it will require some drastic things; like by mid-2030s, we should have a sharp reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, if we are going to achieve 1.5. But how are we going to do that? Mitigation is going to have to be a part of that, which means that at least 50 per cent to a third of the world's energy source will have to be renewables," said physicist Professor Michael Taylor, a coordinating lead author for the special 1.5 report and one of the drafting authors for the SPM.

"There will have to be carbon dioxide removal technologies. One that we need to pay attention to is where you use forestry and land (carbon capture and storage), including planting specific crops to pull carbon dioxide out of the air," added Taylor, who is also dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology and who has responsibility for the Climate Studies Group, Mona.