Planet-saving climate goal difficult to achieve, say experts
Planet-saving climate goal difficult to achieve, say experts [Environment]
The global target to prevent climate catastrophe, crafted at a landmark summit last year in Paris, will be very difficult, if not impossible, to hit, said some of world’s top scientists.
The first-ever climate pact to enjoin all nations vows to cap global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels - and under 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.
The 1.5° C target took the scientific community by surprise.
The question stretches back to the chaotic Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which nearly derailed more than a decade of UN talks, set the threshold for dangerous global warming at 2 C.
Recent crescendo of devastating impacts - heat waves, deadly flooding, storm surges fuelled by rising seas - pushed world leaders to inscribe more demanding temperature targets in the Paris pact, inked by 195 nations in December.
The effort was led by small island nations, some of which are likely to disappear under the waves within decades.
Major emerging economies, notably India, went along despite fears that the new threshold would be a brake on economic development.
On current trajectories, the world is set to warm at least 3 C (5.4 F) by the century’s end, a recipe for human misery and species extinction on a global scale.
The inclusion of 1.5 C - even as an aspirational goal - was hailed as a political victory, especially by poor, climate-vulnerable nations.
Top climate scientists gathered in Oxford to help fill this knowledge gap, and to funnel raw material for a major review - mandated by the Paris Agreement - to be delivered in mid-2018.
The bad news is that we are already two-thirds of the way there, noting that average global temperatures in 2015 - the hottest year on record - were a full degree higher than 150 years ago.
A 2°C cap on warming was already seen as hugely ambitious, both technically and politically.
The danger is that it will push us to look at geo-engineering solutions rather than how to achieve deep decarbonisation i.e. slashing the output of greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere and oceans.
But despite a boom in renewables, emissions have continued to grow, putting even a 2°C target out of reach unless engineers find ways to suck CO2 out of the air and store it underground -- so-called “negative emissions.”