ET View: Act now, act aggressively on climate change
Global temperatures are already 1ºC above pre-industrial levels and its impacts have been visible through the year be it unprecedented heat waves, storms, floods, and droughts. Not acting aggressively to limit warming would result in irreversible changes to human and natural ecosystems. The report makes a comparative assessment of limiting warming to 1.5ºC and 2ºC. Heat waves, drought and flooding at 2 ºC will be worse when compared to warming at 1.5ºC. Sea levels will rise by an additional 10 cm by the end of the century under a 2ºC temperature increase compared to 1.5ºC, exposing an additional 10 million people to coastal flooding, loss of drinking water supplies and other impacts. It is not just humans that will be impacted. Out of 105,000 species studied, the rate doubles between 1.5C and 2C warming to 16% for plants and 8% for vertebrates, and triples to 18% for insects.
For countries like India that still experience considerable developmental deficits limiting warming to 1.5ºC provides a more achievable pathway to a more sustainable and equitable society. But to meet this goal, policy makers need to take action aggressively. India must integrate the goal of limiting warming to 1.5ºC as it builds infrastructure, energy systems, and urban centres if it is to fulfil the goal of poverty eradication and improved lives for all. The science is clearer than ever before, there is a small window of opportunity to act. Inaction is no longer an option neither is incremental action.