Drastic cuts to fossil fuel use. Growing forests and eating less meat. These are just some of the actions needed in this decade to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, a major report by the U.N. climate science agency said on April 4, 2022.
Despite climate change warnings issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1990, global emissions have continued to rise in the last decade, reaching their highest point in history.
The result: global emissions are on track to blow past the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit envisioned in the 2015 Paris Agreement and reach some 3.2 degrees C by century’s end.
The global average temperature has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. And scientists expect the annual average could be anywhere between 1.1C and 1.7C warmer up to 2026 – meaning there’s a chance we could pass the 1.5C warming threshold in the next five years.
By the end of the century, without aggressive climate action, global warming is estimated to reach 2.8 degrees C.
But even at the current level of warming we could pass several climate tipping points.
The ocean current that moves heat from the tropics into the northern hemisphere, for example, is now at its slowest in 1,000 years — jeopardizing historic weather patterns, says the latest multi-scientific report, which includes contributions from the U.N. Environment Programme and U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Nearly half the world’s population is considered highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — floods, heat, drought, wildfires, and storms.
By the 2050s, over 1.6 billion city-dwellers will regularly swelter through three-month average temperatures of at least 35 degrees C (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the planet. That’s according to an analysis published in Nature Communications Earth and Environment in August 2022. Separate modelling by experts shows that as soon as 2035, Arctic sea ice might drop below 400,000 square miles during the summer.
As Egypt prepares to host the U.N. climate summit in November and as global warming reaches a critical juncture for the poorest nations, the gulf between the Global South and the developed world, in terms of climate effects and mitigation, is set to come sharply into focus.
This article has been fact-checked by Arctic Today and Polar Research and Policy Initiative, with the support of the EMIF managed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
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