September 30, 2016
Paris, Scientists Say 'Radical Change' Only Way to Stay Below 2 Degrees
McCauley, staff writer
Study by former IPCC chair comes amid rash of new research, all
predicting the Earth will soon blow by key global warming thresholds.
To much fanfare, global
leaders have agreed to tackle the climate crisis by ratifying theParis climate agreement,
but a group of esteemed scientists is warning that current pledges to reduce
emissions are far from sufficient and, in fact, put the world on track to
reaching the dangerous 2°C climate threshold by 2050.
"The pledges are not going to get even close," said Sir Robert Watson, former
chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and lead author
of a new report out Thursday. "If you governments of the world are really
serious, you're going to have to do way, way more."
Aptly titled The Truth About Climate Change,
the report, put forth by the Argentina-based Universal Ecological Fund
(Fundación Ecológica Universal FEU-US), comes amid a rash of new research, all
suggesting that key global warming thresholds will be reached much more rapidly
than previously thought.
Led by Watson, the team examined the climate commitments, known
as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), put forth by COP21
signatories and concluded that the delayed commitment to climate action has
essentially eliminated the possibility to keeping the Earth's temperature
increase beneath 1.5°C.
The report states:
[T]he 1.5°C target has almost certainly
already been missed because of the lack of action to stop the increase in
global GHG emissions for the last 20 years. Global average temperature
has already reached 1°C above pre-industrial times in 2015, as reported by the
World Meteorological Organization. This is a significant increase, compared
to the 0.85°C above pre-industrial times in 2012 reported by the IPCC. An
additional warming of 0.4-0.5°C is expected as a consequence of GHGs that have
already been emitted. This additional increase in global temperature is
due to the slow response of the ocean-atmosphere system to the increased
atmospheric concentrations of GHGs.
Global GHG emissions are not projected to
decrease fast enough, even if all the pledges are fully implemented. Full
implementation of the pledges will require the promised US$100 billion per year
in financial assistance for developing countries to be realized. As a result,
the 1.5°C target could be reached by the early 2030s and the 2°C target by
Further, the researchers minced no words when laying the blame
for the missed targets on "political and sectoral interests,"
including those "benefiting from the use of fossil fuels," for
promoting "deliberate misinformation" about the current situation.
Thursday's study, which came just one day before European
leaders agreed on a fast-track, joint
ratification of the Paris accord, concludes with a call for nations to
"rais[e] the ambition of the INDCs" and commit to "a radical
change in the way the world produces and uses energy."
Much like the landmark report published last week by fossil fuel watchdog Oil
Change International, the latest findings leave no room for future emissions or
new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Even as the commitments stand,
scientists predict that U.S. will miss its target for
2025 if "fundamental changes" are not made.
In the past week, two separate reports have warned that the
planet will likely pass
the 1.5ºC benchmark this decade and,
under current emissions projections, is "locked in" to reaching a 2
million-year temperature record.
With 2016 on
track to set another
heat record, the wave of research comes as the planet reached another grave
milestone: atmospheric carbon has permanently
surpassed 400 parts
per million (ppm).
Appearing on Democracy
Now! on Friday,
author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben reiterated his call for a World War II-scale
mobilization to combat the global warming "siege."
"If we're going to have a chance of dealing with climate
change, it means mobilizing in ways that we haven't in a very long time,"
In this case, it's not that we need to go
to war with climate change, it's that we’re under siege. I mean, by all the
measures by which one thinks about warfare, we're in one. We're losing
territory all the time. I mean, there are literally islands disappearing. You
know, we've lost huge swaths of the coral in the world this year alone. A wave
of warm water swept across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. In many places,
80, 90 percent of coral died in a matter of weeks, these atolls that have been
there forever in the Arctic. You know, ice that's been there for millennia upon
millennia is now gone. I mean, the world looks entirely different from a
satellite now than it did 30 years ago.
So, the question is not whether or not
we're in a conflict. The question is whether or not we’re going to fight it, or
whether we’re going to keep listening to the Exxons of the world and do