Why It Matters

Need for speed in green efforts

Last week, a major UN report showed just how urgent the fight against climate change has become.

The leaked draft report said the world is in danger of breaching the toughest temperature limit agreed in the 2015 Paris climate pact by mid-century. Bottom line: Only radical energy and transport policies can prevent that, meaning large and rapid changes to national economies.

The Paris pact, agreed by almost 200 nations, set a goal of limiting an average temperature rise to well below 2 deg C, and that nations should pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 deg C.

The world has already warmed 1 deg C above pre-industrial times, and that extra heat is triggering heatwaves, more intense rainfall and storms, droughts, rising sea levels and coral bleaching. As the world gets warmer, weather extremes are set to get worse, climate scientists say, affecting all nations. Singapore is already experiencing warmer years and more intense rainfall.

The draft report by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, written by hundreds of the world's leading scientists and due for release in October, says there is a very high risk that global warming will exceed 1.5 deg C based on the current pace of warming and national pledges to curb emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

The draft says that average temperatures are on track to rise 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial times by the 2040s. That gives the world very little time to make unprecedented changes to energy, agriculture and industrial policies to slash greenhouse gas emissions.The good news: Rapid advances in renewable energy and battery technologies mean we can speed up the switch to greener energy and transport. Halting deforestation will also help. What is needed are deeper commitments from all governments to quickly cut emissions and prioritise research and development towards a greener, less polluted world.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2018, with the headline 'Need for speed in green efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe