We will not make the goals set out by the Paris agreement without unprecedented levels of economic commitment. That’s according to a leaked UN document obtained by Reuters. Worse than that, we are on track to exceed the 1.5°C (2.7°F) limit by the mid-century.
“There is very high risk that... global warming will exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” the report states.
The document was commissioned by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to study the risks of each goal established in Paris and had been sent out to receive comments from politicians and climate experts last week. It was not due to be published until October 2018 and as Jonathan Lynn, spokesman for the IPCC, pointed out to Reuters, it is a work in progress so the text may still "change substantially”.
However, according to Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge, the science is not wrong.
“The report is unexceptional,” Wadhams told Futurism. “It was already clear to every climate scientist that a 1.5°C warming limit would be breached by 2050 (in fact, probably much earlier) in the absence of drastic carbon capture measures.”
The world’s average surface temperature has already risen 1°C (1.8°F) above pre-industrial times, making 2018 the warmest the planet has been in over 11,000 years. Without considerable effort we can expect to hit 1.5°C by the 2040s, the report warns.
To guarantee a 50 percent chance of achieving the 1.5°C limit, the report estimates we have to keep greenhouse gas emissions below 580 billion tonnes (640 billion tons). At current rates, we would burn through it in 12 to 16 years.
While climate naturally fluctuates, the science clearly indicates human activity is speeding things along at a remarkable rate. Despite what certain political figures have said, it is not a Chinese hoax and carbon dioxide really does cause climate change. More than 97 percent of climate research will tell you man-made climate change is happening and we are already seeing its effects.
In 2015, almost 200 nations came together to sign the Paris agreement, agreeing to limit warming to “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial times and setting a more ambitious goal of 1.5°C. Now, all but one country has committed to the agreement.
The Trump administration might be pushing for more jobs in coal but the report, written by climate experts, stresses the importance of winding down fossil fuel production as soon as possible. Instead, renewables will have to become the primary source of energy by 2050.
But that’s not all. To achieve the ambitious target of 1.5°C warming by the century's end, governments will have to introduce extensive carbon capture programs. This could include planting forests, chemical looping, or buildings that literally suck carbon dioxide particles out of the atmosphere.