The guide summarizes recent Earth-system science, policy, public health and economic research that aims to help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs.
Report co-author Johan Rockström, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explained that Earth observations show that big systems with known tipping points are already now at 1°C warming and moving towards potentially irreversible change.
Future Earth and The Earth League, international organizations representing networks of global sustainability scientists, have issued a guide for climate negotiators, policymakers and the media that considers the latest findings in climate science at a time when increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations are unprecedented and weather extremes have become the “new normal.”
The guide titled, ‘10 New Insights in Climate Science,’ was presented during the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain. It summarizes recent Earth-system science, policy, public health and economic research that aims to help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs.
During the guide’s launch, report co-author Johan Rockström, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explained that Earth observations show that big systems with known tipping points are already now at 1°C warming and moving towards potentially irreversible change, such as accelerated melting of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, rainforest drying and Arctic permafrost thawing.
The ten insights presented in the report are:
- The world is not on track to cut emissions as agreed under the Paris Agreement;
- Climate change is happening faster and stronger than expected, with severe implications for food security;
- Climate change “leaves no mountain summit behind,” with, inter alia, changes to glaciers, snow and ice in mountains likely influencing water availability for over a billion people downstream by mid-century, and irreversible impacts on mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity;
- Forests are under threat, with climate change exacerbating forest fires, and carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization increasingly being offset by temperature rises that can increase tree mortality;
- Weather extremes have become the “new normal” in 2019, with societies often lacking sufficient time to fully recover before another event hits;
- Biodiversity is being threatened, with at least 99% of coral reefs potentially disappearing due to ocean acidification, heatwaves and other pressures at 2°C warming, and freshwater fish die-offs potentially doubling by 2050 due to extreme summer temperatures;
- Climate change threatens food security and the health of hundreds of millions, with increasing CO2 concentrations reducing the nutritional quality of most cereal crops, and global fish stocks set to further decline;
- The most vulnerable and poor are the hardest hit by climate change, which, unabated, will hinder progress in developing countries, and failure to mitigate and adapt could push 100 million people below the poverty line by 2030;
- Equity and equality are pivotal to successful mitigation and adaptation, with social justice highlighted as an important factor for resilience and local and global cooperation; and
- “Time may have come” for social tipping points on climate action, with an increasing number of citizens concerned about climate change, and deep and long-term transformations required to achieve the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.
This is the third annual publication by The Earth League, and Future Earth, which is governed by the International Science Council (ISC), Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN University (UNU), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum. [Publication: 10 New Insights in Climate Science: 2019] [Key Conclusions from the Report] [UNFCCC Press Release]