Rising Temperatures, Rising Seas – Climate Vulnerable Communities And Shipping: IPCC

As MEPC 78 (Marine Environment Protection Committee) is set to consider action to reduce shipping’s contribution to the global climate crisis, IMO Members and the global shipping community must acknowledge the challenges faced and agree to ambitious targets backed by urgent and timely action to reach the Paris Agreement target to remain below 1.5oC, in order to protect people living on the frontline of our changing climate.

As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched the Working Group III report on Mitigation of Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said:

“We are on a fast track to climate disaster. Major cities under water. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.

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We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris. Some Government and business leaders are saying one thing, but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic. This is a climate emergency. Climate scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts. But, high-emitting Governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye, they are adding fuel to the flames.ʺ

The IPCC reports confirm that the Arctic is warming at nearly three times the global average, that rapid warming and extreme temperatures in the Arctic are leading to unprecedented seasonal sea ice loss, permafrost thaw and increasing ocean temperatures, and that increased weather and climate extreme events are exposing Arctic communities to acute food insecurity, biodiversity loss as well as damage and loss of cultural heritage sites, settlements and livelihoods.

These changes also impact the rest of the world as the Arctic serves as a regulator of global climate and other ecological processes through large-scale patterns related to air and ocean circulation. There is high confidence that these processes are nearing points beyond which rapid and irreversible changes (on the scale of multiple human generations) are possible. The magnitude of cascading changes over the next two centuries includes regional warming and temperature extremes, permafrost thaw and sea ice loss beyond that experienced in human existence. There is very high confidence that under all climate and socio-economic scenarios, low-lying cities and settlements, small islands, Arctic communities, remote indigenous communities, and deltaic communities will face severe disruption by 2100 – and as early as 2050 in many cases.

Never before have such stark warnings been issued.

As the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) gathers in London between 6 – 10th June to consider action to reduce shipping’s contribution to the global climate crisis, IMO Members and the global shipping community must acknowledge the challenges faced and agree to ambitious targets backed by urgent and timely action to reach the Paris Agreement target to remain below 1.5oC. This event gathers scientific experts alongside voices from the Arctic and further afield who are living on the frontline of our changing climate. Please join us to hear more.

In the words of an IPCC Working Group III report co-chairs: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5oC. Without immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

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