A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that half a degree of warming matters—a lot.
As part of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, countries committed to keep global warming well below 2˚C (3.6˚F) above pre-industrial levels while trying to limit temperature increase to 1.5˚C (2.7˚F). Based on a request by governments, the IPCC, a collection of world’s leading climate scientists, took stock of how the impacts of a 1.5˚C temperature limit differ from 2˚C, as well as the differences between emissions pathways for achieving these two temperature goals. Their findings show that the world will face severe climate impacts even with 1.5 degrees of warming, and the effects get significantly worse with 2 degrees. The world has already witnessed about 1˚C of temperature rise and is on track to exhaust the carbon budget associated with 1.5˚C by 2030.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences between a 1.5˚C and a 2˚C world: