Climate change: Chance of keeping warming below 1.5C 'very slim' - Climate Change Minister James Shaw

Despite his best efforts, and the efforts New Zealand will soon be asked to undertake, James Shaw says it's highly unlikely warming will be kept below 1.5C. 

The Government's own legislation requires it to "contribute to the global effort under the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels".

The Paris Agreement cites 1.5C of warming as a stretch goal, its main aim to keep warming below a more realistic 2C. 

There's not a lot of wriggle room - the world passed the 1C of warming mark four years ago, and it's only getting faster. 

Under 2C of warming, New Zealand will see "more frequent and more severe droughts, more frequent and more severe storms, flooding, fires like the ones you saw on the Port Hills a few years ago or in the Nelson region", Shaw - the Climate Change Minister - told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

"The impact on that is mostly on our agricultural sector. The really severe drought we saw in 2014 knocked about $1.5 billion off our agricultural exports."

Asked if he thought 2C of warming is inevitable, Shaw seemed resigned.

"I think our chances as a planet of staying within 1.5C are very thin. That's why I'm so concerned we actually crack on and get this job done." 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says at current rates, we'll pass 1.5C of warming by 2040 - well before New Zealand's legislated goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050. 

Shaw said a recent IPCC report said countries need to do most of the decarbonisation as soon as possible - in the next 10 years.

The independent Climate Change Commission this week delivered its advice, which the Government has to respond to by the end of the year. 

"If they don't accept the recommendations, they've got to come up with something better that produces the same outcome otherwise they are in violation of the law," said Shaw.

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