In the midst of floods and fires, key UN climate science talks have begun.
Nearly 200 countries will begin online negotiations on Monday to ratify a UN science report that will serve as the foundation for autumn conferences aimed at averting global climate catastrophe.
In recent weeks, record-breaking heatwaves, floods, and drought have hit three continents, all exacerbated by global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is more than timely.
“There is no doubt that it will be a wake-up call,” said Richard Black, founder and senior associate of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in London.
He pointed out that the report comes just weeks before the United Nations General Assembly, the G20 summit, and the 197-nation COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Since the IPCC’s latest thorough assessment of global warming, past and future, in 2014, the globe has changed dramatically.
In the haze of fatal heatwaves and fires, any remaining doubts that warming was accelerating or was nearly totally human-caused have vanished, as has the deceptively soothing assumption that climate consequences are a worry for tomorrow.
Since the last IPCC report, the Paris Agreement has been ratified, with a collective vow to keep global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) above late-nineteenth-century levels.
According to the International Energy Agency, carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels, methane leaks, and agriculture has raised the temperature by 1.1 degrees Celsius so far, and emissions are growing quickly again after a brief, Covid-imposed pause (IEA).
Many parties, no doubt, believe this target can be safely ignored. The 2015 pact also includes an aspirational limit on warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
However, a special assessment published by the IPCC in 2018 demonstrated how much more disastrous an additional 2 degrees Celsius will be for humans and the earth.
IPCC lead author and Maynooth University professor Peter Thorne told AFP that “1.5 degrees became the de facto aim” – proof of the IPCC’s power in molding world policy.
To stay inside 1.5 degrees Celsius, scientists estimate that greenhouse gas emissions must drop 50% by 2030 and be completely phased out by 2050.
Over the last seven years, there has been a third major shift in science.
“Today, we have stronger climate projection models and longer observations with a much clearer signal of climate change,” said climatologist Robert Vautard, who is also the director of France’s Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute and an IPCC lead author.
The so-called attribution studies, which for the first time allow scientists to quickly measure the extent to, are arguably the most significant breakthrough. Brief News from Washington Newsday.