Special Report on 1.5°C

Our UK-centric take on the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. A reminder, and reiteration, of what's at stake.

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By John Lang


On 8 October 2018, the IPCC published the most important report in its 30-year history: the Special Report on 1.5 °C. Here, we highlight the stark difference between a 1.5°C and 2°C world, with a special focus on the UK and Europe.

This IPCC report outlined just how rapidly governments need to cut emissions to give human societies a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and thus preventing dangerous climate change. Although 1.5ºC of warming will have serious consequences, the world will be significantly better off than at 2°C or higher, with far less damage to nature and people, and with a much lower risk of passing thresholds that lead to irreversible impacts.

Most importantly, SR15 shows that the challenge of curtailing climate change — of reaching net zero carbon emissions by mid-century — can be met. The challenge is formidable — but there's increasing evidence that shows it can done, and plenty more that says it’s worthwhile. But in the words of the IPCC itself, pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires 'rapid ', 'far-reaching' and 'unprecedented' transitions in all aspects of society.

For details of how emissions can be brought to (or close to) zero in sectors such as energy, industry and transport, on the realities of ‘negative emissions’ and the rationale for the 1.5ºC target, read our net-zero briefings here.

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