Researchers: ‘Immediate action’ needed to hit global temperature targets
Thursday, February 22, 2018
The Universities of Southampton and Liverpool, and the Australian National University in Canberra are offering new research that suggests that if "immediate action" is not taken, Earth's global average temperature could rise 1.5 degrees C above the period before the Industrial Revolution within the next 17 to 18 years, and 2 degrees C in 35 to 41 years if the carbon emission rate remains at its present-day value.
In their latest paper, published in the February issue of Nature Geoscience, Dr. Philip Goodwin from the University of Southampton and Professor Ric Williams from the University of Liverpool advise that cumulative carbon emissions need to remain below 195-205 PgC (from the start of 2017) to deliver a likely chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees C warming target, while a 2 degrees C warming target requires emissions to remain below 395-455 PgC.
Accordingly, researchers say such current projections, if not changed or better managed, could be the catalyst for Earth's slow destruction even as many leaders and organizations of the world seek additional solutions to determine how best to meet obligations to reduce carbon emissions and better manage any potential warming, as defined by the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance, starting in the year 2020. It was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties and adopted by consensus on Dec. 12, 2015.
As of November 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 174 have become party to it. The agreement is meant to respond to potential climate change by attempting to keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
However, the Paris Agreement is a good-faith agreement with no teeth to force participating countries to set a specific target by a specific date, but each target "should go beyond previously set targets." In June 2017, the U.S. pulled out of the agreement.
"Immediate action is required to develop a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative future or, alternatively, prepare adaptation strategies for the effects of a warmer climate," said Dr. Goodwin. "Our latest research uses a combination of a model and historical data to constrain estimates of how long we have until 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C warming occurs. We've narrowed the uncertainty in surface warming projections by generating thousands of climate simulations that each closely match observational records for nine key climate metrics, including warming and ocean heat content."
Professor Williams added: "This study is important by providing a narrower window of how much carbon we may emit before reaching 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C warming. There is a real need to take action now in developing and adopting the new technologies to move to a more carbon-efficient or carbon-neutral future as we only have a limited window before reaching these warming targets."
Through their previous research published in 2014, the researchers were able to provide a "single equation connecting global warming to the amount of carbon emitted, warning of the detrimental effects of the nearly irreversible nature of carbon emissions for global warming," Daily Science reports.
Per the site, the new research "reinforces their previous conclusions that the more cumulative carbon emissions are allowed to increase, the more global surface warming will also increase. This policy implication reinforces the need to develop carbon capture techniques to limit the warming for the next generations."
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