The world will almost certainly reach a tipping point and bring about unstoppable, destructive climate change, according to a new study.
There is a 90 per cent chance that the world's temperature will rise 2C, to 4.9C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, despite measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's at that point that scientists think the world will fall into disastrous effects like widespread drought, extreme weather and dangerous increases in sea level. Experts have suggested that 2C of warming is the "tipping point" at which that change becomes unstoppable. The world will almost certainly fail to keep warming to the 1.5C target that was set as part of the Paris climate agreement, according to the same research. There's a 99 per cent chance that climate change will break through that limit.
Dr Dargan Frierson, from the University of Washington, said: "Countries argued for the 1.5C target because of the severe impacts on their livelihoods that would result from exceeding that threshold. Indeed, damages from heat extremes, drought, extreme weather and sea level rise will be much more severe if 2C or higher temperature rise is allowed. Our results show that an abrupt change of course is needed to achieve these goals."
Professor Adrian Raftery, who led the University of Washington team, said: "Our analysis is compatible with previous estimates, but it finds that the most optimistic projections are unlikely to happen. We're closer to the margin than we think. Overall, the goals expressed in the Paris Agreement are ambitious but realistic. The bad news is they are unlikely to be enough to achieve the target of keeping warming at or below 1.5 degrees."
A separate study in the same journal found that even if all fossil fuel emissions were halted this year, global temperatures were very likely to be 1.3C higher than pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.