1.5°C climate goal unlikely but doable: Report
PARIS: The Paris Agreement goal of capping global warming at 1.5°C will slip beyond reach unless nations act now to slash carbon pollution, curb energy demand, and suck CO2 from the air, according to a draft UN report.
Without such efforts, “holding warming to 1.5°C by the end of the 21st century [is] extremely unlikely,” said the 1,000-page report, prepared by hundreds of scientists.
“There is a very high risk that under current emissions trajectories, and current national pledges, global warming will exceed 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.”
On current trends, Earth’s thermometer will cross that threshold in the 2040s, said the report.
The greenhouse gas emissions guaranteeing that outcome will have been released within 10 to 15 years.
Under any scenario, there is no model that projects a 66-per cent-or-better chance of holding global warming below 1.5°C, the synthesis of recent scientiic studies concluded.
With only a single degree Celsius of warming so far, our planet is already coping with a crescendo of climate impacts including deadly droughts, erratic rainfall, and storm surges engorged by rising seas.
The landmark, 197-nation climate treaty, inked in 2015, calls for limiting global warming to “well under” 2°C, and “pursuing efforts” for the 1.5°C cap.
All countries made voluntary carboncutting pledges, running out to 2030.
At the same time, the UN’S Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) was mandated to prepare a special 1.5°C report covering impacts and feasibility.
The inal version, vetted by governments, will be unveiled in October.
Pressure for the lower temperature target and the report came from nations whose fate could turn on the half-degree difference between a 1.5°C and 2°C world.
Rising seas, for example, threaten the existence of small island states and could displace tens of millions in Bangladesh, Vietnam and other counties with densely populated river deltas.
“There is a tipping point on sea level rise” — driven mainly by melting icesheets on Greenland and Antarctica — “somewhere between 1.5°C and 2°C,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“With 2°C, according to our models, sea level will just keep on rising,” he said.