WWF calls on the EU to take ‘urgent action’ to limit global warming to 1.5°C

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, released yesterday (08 October), demonstrates how critical it is to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Approved by 195 governments, the report underscores the small window of opportunity we have to make immediate, deep and transformational changes – without which the world we know will be irreversibly changed.

Health, security and money

The report makes clear that allowing global temperatures to rise by 2°C above pre-industrial levels will have greater consequences compared with a 1.5°C limit, including the massive loss of natural habitats and species, a disappearing Arctic ice sheet and higher sea levels.

The climate impacts will also affect our health, livelihoods, human security and economic growth. 2017 was already one of the costliest years on record for global insured losses resulting from natural and man-made disasters.

In Europe alone, heatwaves could increase by a factor of five by the end of this century, with droughts likely to be become increasingly frequent in the Mediterranean area, western Europe and Northern Scandinavia.

Irreversible changes

Current emissions, which put us on a 3°C plus global warming trend, will lead us to breach tipping points that will cause irreversible changes. Delaying action will only lead to deeper, costlier and, most importantly, unproven ‘solutions’ in the future. Yet policy solutions available today would prevent those catastrophic climate impacts.

‘Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible, necessary and urgent. The difference between possible and impossible is political will. Clearly the responsibility is with national and policy makers to keep Europe safe by contributing to keep global warming to 1.5°C. The EU’s long-term climate strategy, to be published end November this year, needs to be based on the science of the IPCC report — and not on pressure from business lobbies who are trying to delay the inevitable. The findings make very clear how crucial time is in achieving this 1.5°C limit.’

Head of Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office

‘The EU’s pledge to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is far from sufficient to meet IPCC’s scientific recommendations of a 1.5°C global warming limit’, said Imke Lübbeke, head of Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office. ‘To achieve this 1.5°C pathway, the EU needs to aim for net-zero emissions by 2040. This will require ambitious action in every sector, but it is feasible and will bring huge benefits – to health, jobs and energy independence.’

Today, the EU’s Environment Council will develop its recommendation ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP24).

Based on the IPCC’s landmark scientific evidence, WWF is urging the EU to increase the ambition in the Paris Agreement national climate commitments by 2020, and demonstrate further global climate leadership through a transformational long-term climate strategy come November.