Unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are needed to halt the current rate of global warming, which could reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if current emission rates continue, according to the expert group.
The IPCC published its report in Incheon, South Korea, comparing the manageable global warming picture of 1.5°C against a dire picture of 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Its ultimate conclusion was that the world must reach global net zero emissions by 2050 to limit average temperatures rising above 1.5°C, an aspiration of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
It took 91 authors more than three years to put together the landmark report which references 6,000 works to arrive at its conclusions.
The IPCC created four potential pathways for policymakers to follow to avoid climate disaster.
Reforestation features in all four of the IPCC’s scenarios with the adoption of carbon capture technologies (CCS) also needed to absorb approximately 12 billion tonnes of carbon emissions a year by 2050 — a third of all emissions.
Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 0.8-1.2°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels to date with the world heading towards 3°C under current projections, the IPCC said.
Staying below 1.5°C will require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society," according to the IPCC, which has energy, land-use, cities and industry needing the most attention from policy makers.
It anticipates that approximately the equivalent of 2.5% of global GDP will be needed to be spent over the next two decades to curtail carbon dioxide emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, compared with a 20% cut under the 2°C pathway.
The IPCC says that renewables will need to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050 and coal use must reduce to close to zero by the same deadline.
To avoid a scenario where a 2°C rise in average global temperatures will wipeout all coral reefs, increase global sea-level rise by 10cm and increase the risk of flooding for 10 million people, hard decisions must be made now and not avoided, according to the IPCC.