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March 6, 2021

Climate crisis

Opinion

March 6, 2021

A recent UN Assessment, as of February 26 2021, regarding progress or lack thereof by the 195 nations to the Paris 2015 climate agreement is starting to look like a big bust.

As described in the report, nations are not meeting their voluntary commitments to decrease carbon emissions, especially based upon the Paris ‘15 goals to decelerate carbon dioxide emissions of cars, trains, planes, and collectively, the human-generated colossus. (Source: We Are Nowhere Near Keeping Warming below 1.5 degree C Despite Climate Plans, NewScientist, February 26, 2021)

According to data provided by the 74 nations that have reported to the much-heralded Paris climate accord, collectively, their plans are to reduce emissions by 2030 to 0.5 percent of 2010 levels. But, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated that global emissions must fall by 45 percent, not a measly 0.5 percent. Otherwise, there’s no chance of staying below 1.5 degree C. (Source: Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 degree C, Summary for Policymakers, IPCC, 2018)

Whether by avoidance or ignorance, one-third of the nations to the Paris climate agreement are failing to meet goals. The plans of the remaining two-thirds are unknown at this time, but the trend doesn’t look very promising. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to plan for a global temperature overshoot beyond +1.5 degree C (2.7F).

So then, what does +1.5 degree C above pre-industrial look like?

For starters, according to NASA, it’s important to note that +1.5°C has already been surpassed in many regions of the world, for example Australia (massive fires) and the Arctic (open seas). The impact of climate change is not evenly spread around the planet. Nevertheless, according to the Global Warming Index, as of December 2020, global temperature has increased by 1.168 degree C over the past 170 years (www.globalwarmingindex.org). But, of course, it’s noteworthy that the rate of emissions has doubled since the turn of the 21st century, as the Great Acceleration, post-WWII, kicks into overdrive.

At 1.5 degree C above pre-industrial, NASA claims that roughly 15 percent of the world population will experience extreme heat waves that have the potential to threaten life. On the hottest days at mid-latitudes, temperatures will be up to 3 degree C (5.4 degree F) hotter. These extremes will hit central and eastern North America, central and southern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and many Asian and African regions.

Excerpted: ‘Approaching a Risky 1.5°C Global Overshoot’

Counterpunch.org