Excerpt from a leaked copy of the 'IPCC special report on 1.5C – draft summary for policymakers' which read, 'There is a very high risk that under current emission trajectories and current national pledges global warming would exceed 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels.' Graphic: IPCC

By Chris Mooney
14 February 2018

(The Washington Post) – A draft United Nations climate science report contains dire news about the warming of the planet, suggesting it will likely cross the key marker of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, of temperature rise in the 2040s, and that this will be exceedingly difficult to avoid.

Temperatures could subsequently cool down if carbon dioxide is somehow removed from the air later in the century, the document notes. But that prospect is questionable at the massive scales that would be required, it observes.

The 31-page draft, a summary of a much-anticipated report on the 1.5 degrees Celsius target expected to be finalized in October, was published by the website ClimateHome on Tuesday. The website said the document had been “publicly available on the U.S. federal register over the past month.” Last month, several news outlets, including Reuters, quoted from the draft but did not publish it in full.

The 1.5 C target is crucial to small island nations worried about rising seas, and other nations particularly vulnerable to warming, and was explicitly included in the Paris climate agreement as the more ambitious of two climate goals, the other being 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The draft document states that there is a “very high risk” of the planet warming more than 1.5 degrees above the temperature seen in the mid-to-late-19th century. Maintaining the planet’s temperature entirely below that level throughout the present century, without even briefly exceeding it, is likely to be “already out of reach,” it finds.

Jonathan Lynn, spokesman for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is producing the study, cautioned that the draft is a work in progress.

“The text is highly likely to change between this draft and the final approved summary for policymakers,” he said.

Duke University climate expert Drew Shindell, who is listed as one of the drafting authors of the document, also noted that the draft summary was a very early version of the full report.

“It’s much rougher and much more preliminary than even the underlying document,” he said. [more]

Leaked U.N. draft report sees ‘very high risk’ the planet will warm beyond key limit

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