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Global warming accelerates at triple the past rate: IPCC

By 2040, Earth's temperature will be 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels

Rising temperatures are expected to make extinctions more common, harming sensitive species such as coral. (Courtesy of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

TOKYO -- The rise in global temperatures is on track to reach 1.5 C by around 2040, according to a United Nations draft report, requiring robust action to minimize the impact of increasingly severe weather and rising sea levels.

As of 2017, average global temperatures had risen 1 C above pre-industrial levels, according to the document. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, each decade is expected to bring another 0.2 C of warming -- triple the rate of 0.06 degree or so per decade from 1880 to 2012, a period that saw a cumulative 0.85 C rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release the report at its October meeting in South Korea. Including a temperature forecast for 2040 -- the first ever by the climate study group -- aims to underscore the severity of the issue, and the urgency needed in addressing it.

In certain areas, temperatures are on track to rise more than 5 C, with profound social fallout. Precipitation is set to jump 10% or more in some locations, spawning severe floods. Rising sea levels will compound the impact on human, plant and animal life, making extinctions more common.

Stronger international cooperation is needed to keep the temperature increase as low as possible, the report argues. The central goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord is to keep the rise in temperatures this century "well below" 2 C. The agreement urges signatories to work toward limiting the increase to 1.5 C.

Meeting that goal will require achieving net zero emissions by around 2050. But this demands a fundamental restructuring of industry and economies, in addition to technological advancements in renewable energy and carbon capture and storage technology. The European Union is ready to pursue net zero emissions. But nations such as Japan, where energy policy is a point of major uncertainty, have been less proactive, and emerging economies such as China and India remain enormous emitters.

Countries will discuss specific measures for curbing global warming in December, when the 24th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change -- COP24 -- convenes in Poland. The upcoming report "is likely to provide impetus for demands that emerging nations take stronger steps" against climate change alongside advanced countries, a source at Japan's environment ministry said.

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