Calls for Scottish Government to go further on climate change after IPCC warnings over temperature rise

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 October 2018 in News

SNP defend climate change policy after UN report warnings over 1.5C rise in global temerature

Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to defend her government’s climate change policy after a new report from the UN laid bare the risks associated with global temperatures rising above 1.5C. 

The special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that limiting global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century would require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society", with a rise of 2C likely to mean coral reefs being wiped out, sea levels rising by 10cm and around 10 million more people being exposed to flooding. 

The IPCC found the world has a 12 year window for action in keeping rises under 2C, with Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts, describing the 1.5C target as “a line in the sand”, adding “what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now.” 

But with the Scottish Government’s Climate Bill meaning almost no extra action between now and 2030 beyond the details agreed in the 2009 Climate Act, environmental groups warned current policy does not go far enough. 

Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon said: “Today’s IPCC report is an unprecedented warning on climate change. It makes clear that governments have a narrow and shrinking window for action in which to avert further catastrophic temperature rises.  It shows that a 1.5C world will be a nightmare but a 2C world would be unthinkable. 

“The Scottish Government’s new Climate Bill fails to deliver the ‘rapid and far-reaching transitions’ the report says is necessary. The Bill doesn’t commit to the action necessary to limit warming to 1.5C, it doesn’t deliver on the Paris Agreement, and it doesn’t deliver on Nicola Sturgeon’s promise to ensure that Scotland plays our full part in tackling this global problem.” 

The IPCC report, compiled by hundreds of scientists and approved by 195 governments, found that a 2C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels would mean an additional 60m urban residents exposed to severe drought by 2100. 

A 2C rise would also mean an extra 1.3billion people worldwide exposed to extreme heat waves at least once every 20 years and the Arctic becoming ice-free at least once every 10 years, rather than once every 100 years. 

Failing to keep rises under 2C would see virtually all the world’s coral reefs die off by 2100. 

But the First Minister defended her government's approach.  

Sturgeon said: "The actions the Scottish government has already taken have been described by the United Nations as exemplary. We initially set targets for the reduction of emissions for 2020. We are already ahead of those targets and are toughening up those targets. 

"We have just introduced to the Scottish Parliament new legislation that would make Scotland carbon neutral by 2050 and also as soon as the science says it's possible to do, make Scotland a net zero country in terms of emissions - not just carbon emissions but emissions overall." 

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