It was a remarkable week this past week with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) “Global Warming of 1.5°C” report and the incredible devastation caused by the buzz saw called Michael that whipped through the panhandle of Florida after feeding off of an extra warm Gulf of Mexico. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted. (Click here for donation options.)
The IPCC report is lengthy, eye opening and alarming—especially at a time when our government is doing all it can to reverse progress that has been made. I published the official press release on Green Lodging News. The report can get a bit complicated but here are some bullet points to keep in mind:
- The report is based on more than 6,000 scientific references and the contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide. Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report.
- The report stresses the importance of keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The planet has already experienced a rise in temperature of 1°C which has resulted in rising sea levels, extreme weather events, forest fires, diminishing Arctic sea ice, coral reef damage, etc.
- Every bit of temperature rise is important and has repercussions. For example, coral reefs would decline by 70 to 90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.
- The report conveys a sense of urgency. It states that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” around 2050. Yes, 2030 is just 12 years away.
It is Time to Accelerate Positive Action
“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.
Assuming the scientists contributing to this report have gotten it right, our industry needs to be much more aggressive at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions—those companies that already have set 2020 and 2025 goals and especially those that have set no goals at all. Will leaders emerge to keep our planet 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels?
Interestingly, the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. issued no statement following the release of the IPCC report. The International Tourism Partnership did respond to it. “The main finding of this report is the need for urgent action,” said ITP Director Madhu Rajesh. “At the current level of global commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3°C of warming, so we need to scale up to achieve more, faster than is happening now.”
The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts in the report. Roberts is Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
Global Warming of 1.5ºC is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.
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