UN Climate Report Charts Ways to Halt Global Warming

Just a few decades remain to halt global warming and head off its most catastrophic effects, says a new United Nations report that offers a sweeping menu of climate change fixes that would require global cooperation to implement.



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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mitigation report, released Sunday in Berlin, explores some 1,200 scenarios to avert the worsening effects of global warming by 2100. The proposals  range from planting more trees to relying much more on nuclear power. (Related: "Global Warming 101.")

"This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement. "This report makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity."

Sunday’s report is the third in a series of UN reports on climate change released in the past year that paint a picture of "virtually certain" climate change, driven by increasing emissions—80 percent of them from the burning of fossil fuels—which is already melting the Arctic, acidifying oceans and harming crops. (See also: "New Climate Change Report Warns of Dire Consequences.")

The report urges global action before 2020. The alternative, it says, is paying more later when temperatures rise to dangerous levels, and running more severe risks of climate change, which include rising seas, acidified oceans, longer heat waves, and severe crop failures.

"The longer we wait, the more costly things will be," said Stanford University economist Charles Kolstad, a lead author of the IPCC report. "It is possible to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, that's clear. But it will be a challenge."

Overall, global greenhouse gas emissions—largely caused by burning coal, oil and natural gas—need to be cut 40 to 70 percent by mid-century, the report says, for humanity to face better than 50-50 odds of dodging the worst effects of global warming. (Related: "Clean Coal Test: Power Plants Prepare to Capture Carbon.")

To hit those emission reduction goals, the report calls for a tripling or quadrupling of "low carbon" power sources such as nuclear, solar, or renewable energy around the world.

Many of the report's proposals involve "overshooting" emissions targets in early decades and turning to technologies that effectively remove carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere in later decades to have any realistic chances of working.

"One of the most important contributions of the report is simply in laying out a road map," said Kelly Levin of the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., a longtime IPCC report observer. "There are a ton of solutions."

Publicación: Viernes, 23 de Octubre del 2015.