The UN’s panel of climate scientists has agreed to study how to limit global warming to the toughest target suggested by world leaders, saying even small rises in temperatures could be harmful.
The panel is to look into ways to restrict the rise in temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial times after a 195-nation summit in Paris agreed in December to try and phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century.
Hoesung Lee, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said there were “serious risks” with even minor rises in temperatures from current levels, for instance to coral reefs and to coasts from rising sea levels.
“There was not much scientific research on this topic” when the IPCC last issued a major overview of the risks of global warming in 2014, he told a webcast news conference from Nairobi on Thursday.
The IPCC would issue the 1.5C report in 2018 and two other special climate reports in coming years, one on land, desertification and food security and another on oceans and the world’s icy areas, he said.
The December 2015 summit asked the IPCC to come up with a report about 1.5C, a level scientists reckon would demand drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
In Washington, finance ministers from a group of developing countries vulnerable to climate change, from Afghanistan to Yemen, urged developed nations to make the global financial system more compatible with the 1.5C goal.
“We see the financial system as a weapon to fight climate change with tremendous potential,” Cesar Purisima, secretary of finance of the Philippines and head of the Vulnerable 20 (V20) group, said in a statement.