A new analysis finds that the 2°C (3.6º F) temperature target, the threshold for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change, could be reached as soon as 2050, say seven of the world’s best climate scientists.
Global average temperature has already reached 1ºC (1.8ºF) above pre-industrial levels in 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This is a significant increase in only three years, compared to the 0.85ºC above pre-industrial times in 2012, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the premier scientific body on climate change in its Fifth Assessment Report.
Weather-related events -temperature, precipitation and wind conditions- have already changed everywhere due to climate change. The evidence is what most have been experiencing as unusual weather events, such as changes in average rain patterns leading to floods or droughts, more intense storms, heat waves and wildfires, among others daily examples. Since 1990, weather-related events due to climate change have doubled in number.
An increase in global average temperature of 2ºC (3.6º F) above pre-industrial levels within the next couple of decades could lead to an additional doubling of the number of these weather-related events.
“Climate change is happening now and much faster than anticipated,” says Sir Robert Watson, former Chair of the IPCC. “While the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is an important step in the right direction, what is needed is a doubling or tripling of efforts.” “Without additional efforts by all major emitters, the 2ºC target could be reached even sooner.”
Even with all countries uniting and adopting the Paris Agreement with the goal of holding global temperature well below 2ºC, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not expected to decrease fast enough in the next 15 years.
The assessment of current pledges to combat climate change representing 189 countries show that global GHG emissions will be 33 percent above the level of what they should be to stay below 2ºC (3.6º F)above pre-industrial levels in 2030, according to the United Nation Environment Programme’s The Emissions Gap Report 2015.
Of the 162 pledges submitted as part of the Paris Agreement, 27 (17 percent) were made without any conditions, 44 (27 percent) are conditional upon obtaining funding from donor countries for their implementation, and 91 (56 percent) combine unconditional and conditional pledges.
If those pledges without any conditions are implemented, global GHG emissions are expected to increase by six percent in 2030. If all pledges are 100 percent realized emissions will remain at the current levels in 2030.
“With the Paris Agreement, all countries are finally together in the fight against climate change,” says Carlo Carraro, Ph.D., Co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III. “It sets the basis for all counties to take action, but its weakness is based on.
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