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  • A Greenpeace activist hangs from ropes after deploying a banner against coal outside Germany's embassy in London, Britain, October 8, 2018.

    A Greenpeace activist hangs from ropes after deploying a banner against coal outside Germany's embassy in London, Britain, October 8, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 October 2018
Opinion

The past 18 years have been globally the warmest on record since the 1850s when measurements began, the IPCC said.

Keeping the Earth's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius means making rapid, unprecedented changes in the way people use energy to eat, travel and live or we risk even more extreme weather and loss of species, a U.N. report said on Monday.

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Meeting 1.5 Degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than the 2C target agreed at global climate talks in Paris in 2015, would have "clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems," the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

After years of leadership on climate change, Germany risks being left behind as German experts urged Berlin to use its political clout to encourage society to join together to reach climate saving goals.

"The hindrances lie very clearly at the feet of the political institutions," said Co-Chairman of the IPCC working group Hans-Otto Poertner from the Alfred-Wegener Institute. "This means we need a charismatic political leadership who can sell climate goals to the public and who can convince people to act, who could convince all layers of society to think about the ways in which future damage to society could be averted, that is what's needed. Our current political leadership or their clear political statements seem to be doing just the opposite."

The IPCC announcements come as climate issues have been dominating the headlines in Germany. An unusually hot summer caused damage to crops, forest fires and a massive reduction in water levels across the country. 

Tens of thousands of Germans demonstrated on Saturday in support of saving the ancient Hambach Forest which German power company RWE wants to clear for mining. The utility giant, one of Europe's largest carbon dioxide emitters, has drawn heavy criticism from environmentalists over the planned clearing of the Hambach forest that it bought decades ago to expand mining in the area, in North Rhine-Westphalia.

"But I am sure that the members of this commission from unions to industry will hear the exact message of the IPCC via the climate organizations and industry and that the only clear signal must be: hurry up! We need to manage this transition more quickly and of course, we need to achieve it fairly. But it is obvious that the time of the fossil fuels is at an end, and a country like Germany that has the technological possibilities should not be following behind, rather Germany should be at the vanguard, that is also clear!"

Scientists attribute the temperature rises and extreme weather mainly to greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Failing to keep Earth's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius will translate into worsening food shortages, wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs.

For Latin American and Caribbean countries, the possible increase in temperatures above 1.5°C would unleash a humanitarian and health crisis. Scientists fear the Caribbean could be entirely wiped out as sea levels rise and they have warned limiting global warming to 1.5°C could prevent around 3.3 million cases of dengue in the region alone.     

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