Campaigners Respond to 'Game Changing' IPCC 1.5°C Report

Read time: 13 mins
Climate activists

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report that outlines the “unprecedented” changes necessary to prevent the world warming by more than 1.5°C. Climate campaigners have called the report “game-changing”.

While the target may be ambitious, the IPCC scientists say there are “significant” benefits to holding warming to that level, and outline a number ways it can be achieved with current and new technologies.

The report emphasise the significant benefits of preventing an additional 0.5°C of warming, including:

  • Global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower by 2100 with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C;
  • The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C;
  • And coral reefs would decline by 70 to 90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas “virtually all” would be lost with 2°C.

Here's how campaigners reacted to the report. We'll be updating throughout the day.

Global | UK | North America | Europe | Africa | East Asia and the Pacific | Middle East

GLOBAL

WWF, Stephen Cornelius, Chief Advisor on Climate Change:

We expected tough negotiations on this landmark report and we are happy that governments have delivered a good reflection of the underlying science. Current country pledges to cut emissions are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C and you can’t negotiate with science.

Every half a degree matters to people and nature - this is the reality of our warming world. We have no choice but to take the strongest climate action and speed up the low-carbon transition of all sectors such as energy, transport, and food. Without rapid and deep cuts to carbon emissions, we will face more severe impacts to ecosystems from coral reefs to Arctic sea ice and more wildlife at risk.”

Greenpeace, Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director:

The world is on fire. In order to avoid more of these tragic fires, severe storms and loss of life, the world must halve global emissions in the next decade. This is a huge challenge, but it is doable and the costs of not following the right path are a matter of life and death to millions around the world, particularly the vulnerable.”

This IPCC report is the most unique and important climate science report we’ve had. Governmental and corporate leaders have nowhere to hide and must show they understand the science by acting with the urgency it demands. But we all have a role. Every person has to do everything in their power to change course and follow the plan that is included in the IPCC report.”

CARE International, Caroline Kende-Robb, Secretary General:

The IPCC report makes it clear: the world must come together now to take serious action to stop global warming. Developing countries are already disproportionately affected by climate change - it deprives the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, from basic universal rights. CARE calls on governments, in particular, from developed countries and emerging economies, to accelerate climate action to reduce emissions now, not in 10 years. Ignoring the necessities for action that the IPCC report spells out is unacceptable.” 

CliMates (youth network), Sofia Kabbej, Advocacy Director: 

The new IPCC report reaffirms the need to step-up climate action if we are to cap the global temperature rise under 1.5°C. The consequences of a 1.5°C warming would still be significant and will impact millions of lives. The successful fulfilment of this commitment relies on us, as a collective, to take the appropriate decisions and translate those into action as soon as we can. Let's also not forget that effective climate action brings about positive spill-overs to efforts aiming to reduce inequalities worldwide. Youth will be bearing most of the consequences of inaction. Now is the time to act!” - 

UK

WWF Scotland, Gina Hanrahan, Head of Policy:

Organisations like WWF Scotland are already witnessing the effects of climate change on the natural world, from the ocean floor to the remote Arctic.”

This game-changing report shows us the reality of what we will lose if we don’t keep average global temperature rise below 1.5oC. For example, at 2oC, we will lose all our coral reefs, home to a quarter of marine species and depended on by a billion people around the world. If we act to keep warming below 1.5 degrees however, around 30 percent will survive. Rapid cuts to emissions are the only solution and the report shows that limiting warming to a safer range is possible, necessary and urgent.”

Christian Aid, Kat Kramer, Global Climate Lead:

A failure to act can lead to irreversible impacts and even to tipping points that can lead to global warming spiralling out of control. The challenge is now for the world’s leaders and policymakers to keep fossil fuels in the ground, invest in renewables, and in resilience measures to keep their people safe from existing climate risks.

They need to be ready to respond to this scientific report with ambitious pledges to act, backed by real plans of action. Individuals too can play an important role in their lifestyle choices, such as eating less meat and dairy, and consuming less energy. We all share this one fragile planet together and so need to act in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable, those who will be impacted the most if we fail to act.”

ClientEarth, Jonathan Church, Lawyer:

For the first time we have a clear picture that limiting warming to 1.5°C target is theoretically feasible. Achieving this target – fundamental to protecting communities, the environment and our economies – requires, first and foremost, drastic reductions in global carbon emissions.”

Overall, this report does not change the basic picture: We need to do more of what we know works now by rapidly cutting emissions and stepping up action to protect and restore forests and ecosystems. Banking on the success of artificial solutions when we do not know whether they will deliver positive results is madness when the future of people and the planet are at stake.”


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EUROPE

Friends of the Earth Europe, Jagoda Munić, Director:

“The fossil fuel age has to end: that’s the message of today’s report. To have any chance of avoiding the chaos, droughts and rising tides of 1.5 degrees or more of global warming, we must massively and speedily transform our society to kick our fossil fuel addiction. “The EU must do its fair share, beginning with completely stopping funding for fossil fuels and switching to 100% renewables by 2030. Currently Europe is far off track.”

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Wendel Trio, Director:

Science has given us a message of both urgency and hope. It has made it crystal clear that warming of more than 1.5°C would result in ever wilder extreme weather events. These in turn would expose us to greater drought, food shortages and economic devastation. The silver lining to the report is that we still have a chance to stay below 1.5°C, that solutions are within our reach and that it will help us build a safer, more prosperous Europe.” 

Greenpeace Nordic, Senior Policy Advisor Kaisa Kosonen:

Will we get there in time? Nobody knows. It’s uncharted territory we’re heading into. What matters now is that we decide to try and that we make it our absolute priority. Only then do we have a chance to protect ourselves from the devastating impacts that science says would start accelerating after 1.5 degrees.”

Those who say it’s unrealistic are actually telling us to give up on people, to give up on species, to give up on our amazing planet. We will not accept this. We do not give up on human ingenuity, courage or hope against political apathy and corporate greed. We will never give up on us. We are determined to succeed.”

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hamzeh Bany Yasin, Climate and Energy Policy Program Manager:

“The IPCC has warned in all its reports that climate change will lead to adverse impacts on natural and human systems. IPCC Special Report 'Global Warming of 1.5°C' gives strong insights why the 1.5°C aspirational target of the Paris Agreement should be taken very seriously; as climate threshold concludes that the risks for human well-being and livelihoods, ecosystem, food and water security, which are already serious today, will be critically higher at 1.5°C, and projected for further increase with every level of additional emission.”

Germanwatch, Manfred Treber, Climate and Transport Adviser: 

“Based on the results of excellent scientific work in the last years the IPCC shows in its Special Report on 1.5°C that and how the ambitious 1.5°C-goal of the Paris Agreement can be achieved.To arrive at the necessary net zero emissions before 2050, the IPCC scenarios show that strong emission reductions until 2030 are needed. This means that NDCs have to be strengthened and that industrialised countries like Germany must decide soon to phase out coal until 2030.” 

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Anne Stauffer, Director for Strategy and Campaigns: 

Climate action is all about opportunities for health: decarbonising our lives is entirely possible and will make this world a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable place. Ensuring a limit of 1.5 degree Celsius instead of 2 would mean less health-threatening extreme weather events, chronically ill people, less hospital admissions, less deaths and less financial burden on our societies.”

NORTH AMERICA

Union of Concerned Scientists, Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science and Policy:

According to the IPCC report, meeting the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature target will require bringing carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by mid-century and dramatically reducing emissions of other heat-trapping gases. This calls for transforming our energy economy and transitioning away from fossil fuels by greatly ramping up energy efficiency and embracing renewables and other low-carbon energy sources.”

“Nations must now respond to the report by signaling their intention to increase their national emission reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement. As the report makes clear, if the collective ambition of pledges is not significantly raised, the option of holding warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, much less anything approaching 1.5 degrees, will be foreclosed.” 

Environmental Defense Fund, Nathaniel Keohane, Senior Vice President for Climate:

This new report makes it clearer than ever that we’re in the race of our lives. Our fate – and the fate of our children – is in our hands. We can make decisions that protect our communities, our children, and future generations, or we can pass on a world far different and more damaged than the one we inherited. It’s time to cut climate pollution, make clean energy abundant and accessible to all, and protect the world’s tropical forests that store enormous amounts of carbon. As the report makes clear, the stakes could not be higher.”

“This news is jarring, but it also shows us the way forward. If we are ambitious about moving to clean energy, as well as cutting methane pollution and black carbon, we can make significant progress. We owe it to ourselves and our children to take this warning – and this opportunity – seriously.”

Climate Action Network Canada, Catherine Abreu, Executive Director: 

No more excuses, no more delay. That is the message this report has for the world. If we want to continue living on a planet that resembles the paradise we inhabit now, we must act immediately and without relent. Importantly, this report also tells us that we have the time and we have the means. 1.5°C is possible. So what’s holding us back from taking the action demanded of us? Short-sighted politics and the reckless self-interest of polluting industries. The science is clear and it has handed us a way forward: all of us must do all we can, all at the same time.”

ActionAid USA, Kelly Stone, Senior Policy Analyst:

The good news is that 1.5°C is still achievable, but only if we acknowledge that business as usual is no longer acceptable.

The barriers to staying under 1.5°C are not technical, but political. Governments of polluting countries must take home the message that they need to re-order their priorities and take much more action if they are going to keep their citizens and planet safe.”

Relying on large-scale negative emission technologies would be a dangerous gamble we must not take.  While some negative emissions are needed, betting on unproven and harmful technologies to remove huge amounts of emissions from the atmosphere in the future. If these technologies do not work at the hoped-for scale, it will be too late to undo the damage. The world will have locked in additional warming and related impacts.”

The Nature Conservancy, Will McGoldrick, Global Climate Strategy Director:

The IPCC report is a sobering reminder that we’re still not on track to achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.  If we’re serious about keeping global warming well below 2 degrees and striving for no more than 1.5 degrees, we cannot afford further delay.”  “In addition to making deep cuts to global emissions, we need to increase efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The best way to do that is to protect, restore and sustainably manage our forests, grasslands and wetlands.” 


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AFRICA

350.org Africa, Payal Parekh, Programme Director:

The science in the IPCC report on 1.5°C speaks for itself. Staying under 1.5ºC is now a matter of political will. Burying our heads in the sand cannot be contemplated as an option any longer. The climate crisis is here and already impacting the most vulnerable and the least responsible for creating it. The only way to achieve it is to stop all fossil fuel extraction and redirect the massive resources currently spent on the fossil fuel economy towards the renewable energy transition”.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

Greenpeace East Asia, Mari Chang, Climate and Energy Campaigner:

We’re witnessing the beginning of the end of coal in Korea through game-changing decisions by Chungcheongnam-do to phase-out coal and two South Korean pension funds to end coal financing. These decisions challenge the Moon government to also ramp up action in line with the Paris goals.”

The IPCC report has sent a clear signal that coal must not be part of our future. This means Korea’s top public financial institutions – KEXIM, K-SURE, and KDB Bank – must end their overseas coal investments.”

Oxfam (Pacific), Raijeli Nicole, Regional Director:

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. 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.”

Climate and Health Alliance - Australia (CAHA) , Fiona Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director: 

Limiting global warming is hard, but achievable. The sobering reality however is that even 1.5 degrees is too hot. Every fraction of a degree matters. We must cut emissions to zero and draw down carbon from the atmosphere. This report emphasises this needs to happen now - not in 10, 20 or 30 years - but right now.” 

MIDDLE EAST

Arab Youth Climate Movement-Lebanon, Nouhad Awwad, National Coordinator:

“The Special IPCC report, entitled 'Global Warming of 1.5ºC' alert us on the importance of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5ºC. The adverse effects of climate change that range from the Arctic ice melt to the natural habitat destruction and the increase of disease burden won’t be confined to a certain country or region; it affects the world as a whole.” 

“World leaders should collaborate with civil society, businesses and scientists to increase intentional cohesiveness, lowering their emission, raising their ambitions, increasing their climate target and reviewing their NDCs.”

Dibeen for Environmental Development, Hala Murad, President:

“To this day, in our country, we see great words and plans on paper, but we are not actually doing the role that is imposed on us so that we do not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is also dangerous, specifically government and supporting agencies they must work with the most vulnerable communities in rural and remote areas, with the poor, women, refugees and others, and should listen to more realistic programs drawn from the harmony between these communities and groups with their environment and climate.”

Image: Takver/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

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