Three years after the COP 21 and the signing of the Paris Agreement by 197 States, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) releases its special report on the consequences of a global warming at 1.5 °C. According to the Panel, limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C is still possible; however, it will require ‘unprecedented’ transitions in all aspects of society, including: “the transformation of energy, agricultural, urban and industrial systems; engagement of non-state sectors; and integration of climate action into broader public policy and developmental frameworks.”
The indisputable truth
The goal is to maintain a 1.5 ° C rise in global temperature until 2100 but at our current trajectory, the temperature trends show that we will meet and surpass this 1.5 ° C rise by 2040, and by the year 2100, the planet will have warmed by 3°C. A comprehensive awareness and a concrete plan of action implemented at every level of society will be the only way to slow this upward progression.
We simply cannot let warming trends continue on their current path. Even by maintaining the proposed 1.5 ° C rise, the consequences of global warming on the environment are overwhelming. Many ecosystems, species (fauna and flora), and marine habitats will not be able to adapt. With every tenth of a degree increase, we continue to see more repercussion. The difference between 1.5 ° C and 2 °C is the extent of the damage. Concerning the oceans, these repercussions take the form of an increase in water levels, a decrease of the concentration of oxygen, acidification, and an irreversible disturbance to flora and fauna. In addition, these trends impact social and economic activities such as fishing, tourism, nautical sport, and marine transportation which will drastically impact coastal communities.
It must be kept in mind that terrestrial ecosystems, water resources and weather conditions are all interconnected and mutually involved. The functioning of the terrestrial ecosystem is experiencing a totally new change linked to the rapidity of events whose origin is anthropogenic. We, and our development models, are responsible for all these changes.
Time To Act
Whether we adapt to climate change or mitigate it, these choices belong to us. From the modification of our behavior (insulation, transport and mobility, control of our consumption) to the mitigation of climate change (energy transition), all actors in society are concerned: citizens, public institutions, industries. It involves deep and rapid transitions in energy, land use planning, infrastructure and industry shifts. The project is unprecedented, as well as unavoidable.
As stated by IPCC co-editor and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri) researcher, Henri Waisman, there is still time to act against climate change. Technologically, we have everything to achieve this. By modifying and adapting our consumption patterns and habits, by putting pressure on politicians and companies to support progressive environmental policy, we do indeed have the ability to slow global warming. So let’s mobilize! The implementation of the solutions will concern everyone, so it is beneficial to participate in the discussion. Thus, Surfrider calls on the gobal community to mobilize for the climate and encourage debate among elected officials, scientists, civil society, and industry representatives. It is up to us to decide the future of the planet.