Is this plan at all feasible?
That all depends on what you mean. The IPCC scientists are not allowed to prescribe what should be done; they can only outline what the options are. But those involved with this study believe it shows realistic paths to staying under 1.5C.
“It is feasible if we all put our best foot forward, and that’s a key message of this report. No-one can opt out anymore,” said Dr Debra Roberts, who’s a co-chair of the IPCC.
“We all have to fundamentally change the way we live our lives; we can’t remain remote from the problem anymore.
“The report is very clear, this can be done, but it will require massive changes, socially and politically and accompanied by technological development.”
Is all this about saving small island states?
The idea of keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5 is something very close to the hearts and minds of small island and low-lying states who fear they will be inundated with flooding if temperatures go to 2 degrees.
But over the three years that the report was in preparation, more and more scientific evidence has been published showing that the benefits of staying close to 1.5C are not just for island nations in the Pacific.
“If you save a small island country then you save the world,” said Dr Amjad Abdulla, who’s an IPCC author from the Maldives. “Because the report clearly states that no-one is going to be immune. It’s about morality – it’s about humanity.”
How long have we got?
Not long at all. But that issue is now in the hands of political leaders. The report says that hard decisions can no longer be kicked down the road. If the nations of the world don’t act soon, they will have to rely even more on unproven technologies to take carbon out of the air – an expensive and uncertain road.
“They really need to start work immediately. The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough. It will make it very difficult to consider global warming of 1.5C,” said Prof Jim Skea.
“If they read the report and decide to increase their ambitions and act more immediately then 1.5C stays within reach – that’s the nature of the choice they face.”
Campaigners and environmentalists, who have welcomed the report, say there is simply no time left for debate.
“This is the moment where we need to decide” said Kaisa Kosonen.
“We want to move to clean energy, sustainable lifestyles. We want to protect our forests and species. This is the moment that we will remember; this is the year when the turning point happened.”
What can I do?
The report says that there must be rapid and significant changes in four big global systems – energy, land use, cities and industry.
“This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work, and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that massive change,” said Dr Debra Roberts.
“You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.
“We can choose the way we move in cities and if we don’t have access to public transport – make sure you are electing politicians who provide options around public transport.”