Tom Maidment of E.Mission has produced the following analysis of the implications for Coventry of the IPCC report on 1.5°C of warming.
The recent IPCC special report into 1.5°C of warming showed that a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of 40-60% is required by 2030 and net global emissions need to be zero by 2040 to stabilise warming at this level, with net negative emissions beyond that. This assumes the deployment of CO2 removal technologies. Warming of 1.5°C is likely to cause:
- Precipitation to increase in frequency, intensity and/or amount with commensurate flooding effects. This will be a particular issue where rivers have been channelized and their flow restricted, as is the case for the River Sherbourne and others which flow under Coventry. Increased rainfall intensity also has a negative impact on Coventry’s water availability, even if amount is constant as the ability to collect the water is reduced.
- Periods of drought to increase in intensity and/or frequency, impacting food security and the availability of water to the city.
- Extreme hot days are expected to increase by 3°C and heatwaves are expected to be longer, leading to increases in heat related illness and death. This is compounded by the urban heat island effect.
- Sea level to increase by 0.26-0.77 m, displacing significant numbers of people from low lying areas of the UK to higher inland areas like Coventry. It is estimated that 0.1 m of sea level rise leads to approximately 10 million people being displaced globally. Marine ice sheet instability could be triggered at 1.5°C of warming, resulting in a multi-metre rise in sea level, this would cause over 1 million people to be displaced within the UK.
- Significant loss of biodiversity, with 6% of insects, 8% of plants and 4% of vertebrates projected to lose more than half their range. Further warming would be particularly devastating for indigenous amphibian species, who are particularly susceptible to temperature change.
- Significant degradation of marine ecosystems, particularly warm water corals, is likely to cause a reduction in global annual catch and reduce the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in the longer term, impacting food security in Coventry.
- Net reductions in yields and nutritional quality of cereal crops including maize, rice and wheat. This will have a direct negative impact on food availability/prices and human health. It will also negatively impact the availability and price of animal derived food like eggs, milk and meat which rely on these crops for feed.
- Increased air pollution levels if pollutant levels remain constant, negatively impacting human health and leading to an increased economic risk to the Council from litigation as this is likely to push air pollution levels in the city above the legal level.
- Increased risk from vector-borne diseases, as increased temperatures mean those pathogens currently present are able to flourish and as a result of shifts in the geographic range of other vectors/pathogens.
- A reduction in economic growth due to the cost of mitigation and adaptation, however there is potential this investment presents a stimulus, increasing growth.
- Increased poverty levels globally and in Coventry as a result of economic slowdown, diminishing food security and changes to land conditions.
- Increase in immigration from poorer and/or affected countries to richer countries like the UK. In addition, this is likely to cause an increase in global political instability, leading to a further increase in asylum applications.
The IPCC report is clear that any increased level of warming above current levels will lead to more severe impacts and carries the increased risk of forcing effects which would lead to a catastrophic runaway in temperatures, eventually making earth uninhabitable.
1.5°C is not a target, it is a potential scenario. Minimising warming as much as possible will lead to a better outcome for all of us.
For more information contact Tom Maidment at firstname.lastname@example.org.