Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres among signatories of note warning that the next three years will be crucial to stopping the worst the consequences of global warming
Avoiding dangerous high levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require extraordinary struggle and coordination on the part of governments, firms, citizens and scientists in the next three years, groupings of foremost experts has warned.
Warnings over global warming have picked up pace in recent months, even as the political environment has grown chilly with Donald Trumps formal announcement of the USs withdrawal from the Paris agreement. This years weather has drummed high temperature preserves in some regions, and 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years on account.
But while temperatures have risen, global carbon dioxide releases have stayed broadly flat for the past three years. This grants hope that the worst effects of climate change devastating shortages, avalanches, heatwaves and irreversible sea level rises may be avoided, according to a note published in the journal Nature this week.
The writers, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “re saying that” the next three years will be crucial. They calculate that if radiations can be created permanently lower by 2020 then the temperature thresholds leading to runaway irreparable climate change will not be breached.
Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under whom the Paris agreement was signed, spoke: We stand at the doorway of being able to bend emissions reductions veer downwards by 2020, as science demands, in protection of the UN sustainable development goals, and in particular the area of combating extreme poverty. This stupendous challenge coincides with an unprecedented openness to self-challenge on the members of sub-national governments inside the US, governments at all levels outside the US, and of the private sector in general. The opportunity given to us over the next three years is unique in history.
Schellnhuber, chairman of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, contributed: The maths is savagely clear: although the world cant be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by failure[ before] 2020.
Scientists ought to have warning that time is rapidly running out to ward off the most difficult the consequences of warming, and some milestones may have passed out of contact. In the Paris agreement, governments donated an aspirational aim of accommodating warming to no more than 1.5 C, a rank which it is hoped will spare most of “the worlds” lowest-lying islands from inundation. But a thriving form of studies has suggested this is fast becoming impossible .
Pariss less stringent, but firmer, destination of preventing warming from outstripping 2C above pre-industrial heights is also in doubt.
The writers point to signs that the trend of upward releases is being switched, and to technological progress that predicts lower radiations for the future. Renewable energy use has risen, generate a foot for permanently lowering radiations. Coal use is showing clear signals of diminish in key regions, including China and India. Governments, despite Trumps proclamations, are forging ahead with plans to reduce greenhouse gases.
The generators called for political and business leaders to continue tackling emissions and fulfilling the Paris destinations without the US. As before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a happening, its an attitude, they wrote.
They set out six destinations for 2020 which they said could be adopted at the G20 meeting in Hamburg on 7-8 July. These include increasing renewable energy to 30% of energy call; strategies from passing metropolis and the countries to decarbonise by 2050; 15% of brand-new vehicles sold to be electric; and reforms to land use planning, agriculture, heavy industry and the finance sector, to support green growth.
Prof Gail Whiteman said the signs from technical invention and economics were encouraging: Climate discipline underscores the inevitable hurry of our defy, but equally important reflects the fact that the economic, technological and social analyses show that we can resoundingly rise to the challenge through collective action.
While the greenhouse gases poured into the atmosphere over the past two centuries have only gradually taken effect, future changes are likely to be faster, scientists dread. Johan Rockstrm of the Stockholm Resilience Centre read: We have been consecrated by a remarkably resilient planet over the past 100 years, able to absorb the majority of members of our climate misuse. Now we have reached the end of this era, and need to bend the world arch of emissions immediately, to avoid unmanageable outcomes for our modern world.