British Columbia

Lead author on forthcoming UN climate report admits it's time for action, not reports

SFU professor Kirsten Zickfeld says the world needn't wait for an upcoming United Nations report to start acting to limit global warming by the 1.5 C target in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The report will examine feasibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 C

The goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to "well below" 2 C compared to pre-industrial levels, but ideally limiting them to 1.5 C. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A Simon Fraser University professor says the world needn't wait for an upcoming United Nations report on climate change to start acting to limit global warming.

Kirsten Zickfeld is a professor of geography and a lead author of a special report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report aims to examine the feasibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 C — one of the more ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was backed by Canada and nearly 200 other countries.

The Paris Agreement seeks to limit the rise in average world temperatures to "well below" 2 C above pre-industrial times, but ideally limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 C.

"I would say honestly we know enough to be acting," she said.

"We know that the impact of 1.5 C would be less than 2, 3, or 4 C. We know that we can achieve 1.5 C if we're serious about it. Honestly, we don't need to wait for this report to actually be acting."

Zickfeld says 1.5 C is feasible but there are economic and technological challenges and very little room to wait.

"We have to phase out fossil fuel emissions as soon as possible and not allow fossil fuel infrastructure to go forward," she said.

She described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's track record as "mixed" when it comes to climate change

"There are some good initiatives like the Pan-Canadian framework on carbon pricing and phasing out carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants," she said.

"On the other hand, if we go ahead giving the green light to pipelines and LNG terminals, there's no way we can ever achieve that target."

Zickfeld meets with her co-authors in June.

With files from The Early Edition