Paris Agreement and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C

Under the Paris Agreement that came into force in November 2016, signatory nations aim to "hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels," in order to ensure sustainability. The world is now taking further steps in an attempt to transition from a low-carbon society to one with net zero carbon emissions.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. The report highlights the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero as soon as possible in order to secure sustainability and eradicate poverty.

Source:IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C; corrections to frequently asked questions

Key points in Special Report

  • The global average temperature has already increased by 1°C when compared to pre-industrial levels, and at the current pace of emissions, global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C by 2040.
  • The harmful effects of the current 1°C temperature increase are serious, but will increase in severity when the temperature increase reaches 1.5°C and become significantly harmful at 2°C.
  • Global warming is significantly affecting ecosystems and humans owing to abnormal weather conditions, rising sea levels, and other phenomena.
  • Many more countermeasures will be required if our response to global warming is slow.
  • Aiming to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C will also have a positive impact on meeting the objectives of the SDGs.

In 2019, following the publication of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the IPCC published its Special Report on Climate Change and Land and Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which indicate that the impacts of climate change are even more serious than previously thought. In response, at the UN Climate Summit held in September 2019, the Secretary-General of the UN called on member countries to commit to limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C, and 65 countries vowed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Special Report on Climate Change and Land

  • Compared to before the Industrial Revolution, global temperatures rose by an average of 0.87°C and land temperatures by an average of 1.53°C between 2006 and 2015.
  • Climate change is affecting livelihoods, biodiversity, human health, infrastructure, food systems and more, exacerbating existing risks in those areas.
  • The land-related climate adaptation and mitigation response options face barriers and can make only limited contributions.
  • Sustainable land and forest management can reverse the negative impact of climate change on land degradation.

IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

  • The global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled since 1993, and marine heatwaves have doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity.
  • By absorbing more CO2, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification, which is adversely affecting ecosystems.
  • Due to a combination of the disappearance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thermal expansion of the ocean, historically rare (once-per-century) extreme sea level rises are expected to start occurring more than once a year in the tropics.


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