In a new report published in Science, it has been revealed that if we are able to limit global warming to 1.5oC, it would save the vast majority of the world’s plant and animal species from climate change.
The research was led by a team at the University of East Anglia and assessed if the goal set forth by the Paris Agreement would be enough to protect animals and plants around the world.
The study found that species around the world would but benefit but species in Southern Africa, the Amazon, Europe and Australia would be the most impacted. If the goal is met, it would avoid half the risks associated with warming of2oC for plants and animals, and two thirds of the risks for insects.
The team outlined that reducing the risk to insects is particularly important as they are so vital to for ecosystem services such as pollinating crops and flowers, and being part of the food chain for millions of animals and plants. .
This is the first study to explore how limiting warming to 1.5oC would benefit species globally.
The researchers looked at some 115,000 species including 31,000 insects, 8,000 birds, 1,700 mammals, 1,800 reptiles, 1,000 amphibians and 71,000 plants in this, the largest scale study of its kind.
Lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, said: “We wanted to see how different projected climate futures caused areas to become climatically unsuitable for the species living there.
“We measured the risks to biodiversity by counting the number of species projected to lose more than half their geographic range due to climate change.
“We found that achieving the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels, would reap enormous benefits for biodiversity—much more so than limiting warming to 2oC.
“Insects are particularly sensitive to climate change. At 2oC warming, 18 per cent of the 31,000 insects we studied are projected to lose more than half their range.
“This is reduced to 6 per cent at 1.5oC. But even at 1.5oC, some species lose larger proportions of their range.
“The current global warming trajectory, if countries meet their international pledges to reduce CO2, is around 3oC. In this case, almost 50 per cent of insects would lose half their range.
“This is really important because insects are vital to ecosystems and for humans. They pollinate crops and flowers, they provide food for higher-level organisms, they break down detritus, they maintain a balance in ecosystems by eating the leaves of plants, and they help recycle nutrients in the soil.
“We found that the three major groups of insects responsible for pollination are particularly sensitive to warming.
“If temperatures rise by 3oC, ecosystem services provided by insects would be greatly reduced. Other research has already shown that insects are already in decline for other reasons, and this research shows that climate change would really compound the problem.”
There is already plenty of evidence out there of the importance of stopping global warming but this study adds more pivotal research backing it. Each day that passes, it becomes more and more urgent that we do more to reduce carbon emissions and build towards a clean energy future.
Meeting the Paris accord’s temperature targets will take massive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions within 15 years, but won’t require them to be reduced to zero, according to astudy published in the journal Nature Climate Change.