The pledges made by countries at the COP 21 Paris agreement in December 2015 on climate change would lead to “completely catastrophic” global warming, scientists have warned.
In a major analysis of 10 different studies into the effect of what world leaders promised to do, researchers calculated that the planet was still on course for a temperature increase of 2.6C to 3.1C by the end of this century. Their finding was in sharp contrast to the declaration in Paris that action would be taken to keep the rise to “well below” 2C and try to restrict it to 1.5C. In the journal Nature, a team of academics said that their projections based on the promises made by nation states at Paris showed the world was facing an “important challenge”.
Professor Niklas Höhne, of the New Climate Institute in Cologne, told The Independent: “Three degrees of warming would be what I describe as completely catastrophic and this is definitely what we need to avoid. Even two degrees is not a very pleasant situation, with significantly more droughts and floods and weather events … not a very pleasant world. There’s also the risk of tipping points and irreversible change.”
Mark Lynas, the author of the award-winning book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, predicted that three degrees of warming would have a devastating impact on the world. For example, the Indian monsoon, which was a week late this year and is essential for billions of people, would likely fail, the Amazonian rainforest would dry out and life in much of South America would become increasingly difficult because of the searing heat and smoke from wildfires, and the west coast of the US – already suffering from severe droughts – would suffer from rampant wildfires and a lack of water to fight them. New York City would experience regular flooding, extreme Atlantic storms would hit the UK, Spain and France while countries around the Mediterranean would start to develop new deserts. Vast numbers of people would be forced to move as large areas of Africa in particular become uninhabitable, leading to conflict and war. It would also, Mr Lynas warned, cross a number of “tipping points” that would speed up the rate of climate change with wildfires releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.