Up to 50% of plant and animal species in the world’s most naturally-rich areas could face local extinction by the end of the century if carbon emissions are not drastically reduced. Even if the Paris Climate Agreement target of 2°C is met, these places could lose 25% of their species, a landmark new study by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and WWF reveals.
The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, examined the impact of climate change on nearly 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 of the world’s most diverse, wildlife-rich areas. It explores a number of different climate change futures – from a no-emissions-cuts case in which global mean temperatures rise by 4.5°C1, to the Paris Agreement’s target of 2°C.
South-west Australia will be among the most affected places, the study found. If there was a 4.5°C global mean temperature rise, two-thirds of mammals, half the species of birds and reptiles, nearly 80% of amphibians and 60% of plants could disappear in the region by the turn of the century. Koalas, black-flanked rock wallabies, the Adélie penguin and Northern Great Barrier Reef marine turtles will be particularly affected by climate change, the report found.
The study’s conclusion found that keeping the global temperature rise as low as possible is the best way to prevent a loss of plant and wildlife species. To protect the environment and promote sustainability, WFF are calling on people around the world to come together for Earth Hour this Saturday 24th March and switch of their lights. More than 180 countries and 7000 cities are taking part across the globe, with national landmarks doing their bit to support action on climate change. The Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Arts Centre and Darwin Convention Centre are just some of Australia’s prominent buildings taking part.
Earth Hour takes part globally on Saturday 24 March at 8.30pm local time. Visit earthhour.org to find out more.