Stark warning issued over global warming

Stark warning issued over global warming

The world is still not even close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report has said.

This comes despite some nations’ recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions, the study claimed.

The report looks at the gap between what countries promise to do about carbon pollution and what scientists say needs to be done to prevent temperatures rising another two degrees. The two degree level is a goal that world leaders set in 2009.

“The time window (for reaching that goal) is closing, closing,” said United Nations under-secretary for environment Achim Steiner, with the cost of getting to that goal “is increasing, increasing”.

To meet that goal, the world has to hit a peak of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases before 2030, said the report’s chief scientific editor, Joseph Alcamo.

But the study says carbon emissions will continue to soar until 2050 and by then it will be too late.

Researchers concluded how much greenhouse gas the world can emit by 2030 and keep below that two degree mark: about 46 billion tonnes. Without factoring in this month’s promises by the US and China to reduce emissions, the world will be spewing between 15 and 19 billion tonnes more than that, said Mr Alcamo, chief scientist for the United Nations’ environmental arm.

If the US and China follow through with their promises, they may shave a few billions of tons off the total, said former US Senator Tim Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation.

Those pledges and an earlier one by Europe, while narrowing the gap, are not large enough to close it, Mr Alcamo said.

In his forward to the report, Mr Steiner wrote that the “analysis reveals a worrisome worsening trend. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to an even warmer climate and exacerbate the devastating effect of climate change”.

Outside scientists praised the numbers in the study, but Granger Morgan at Carnegie Mellon University raised a question that scientists have been debating more frequently: Is it time to abandon the two-degree goal as unrealistic?

“Today, a two-degree target is akin to a 60-year-old man who resolves to be 25 years old next year,” Mr Morgan said in an email. “It ain’t gonna happen, but it’s time to get really serious about achieving what we can.”

Mr Steiner said because of the dangers of a warmer world, it is unthinkable to abandon the two degree goal.

After the report was released at a Washington news conference, Tommy Remengesau - president of the small island nation of Palau, which is threatened by sea level rise – told reporters this really is not about numbers.

“For some of us, it’s a matter of survival: life and death.”

More on this topic

Twice as many people commute to work by car in Cork than in Dublin; CSO publish annual yearbook Twice as many people commute to work by car in Cork than in Dublin; CSO publish annual yearbook

Piers and Susanna boil over as ‘Mr Broccoli’ protester given TV grillingPiers and Susanna boil over as ‘Mr Broccoli’ protester given TV grilling

48% do not believe carbon tax increase is the way to tackle climate issues48% do not believe carbon tax increase is the way to tackle climate issues

Bill proposes to limit speed of e-scooters and restrict them to cycle lanesBill proposes to limit speed of e-scooters and restrict them to cycle lanes

More in this Section

Trump resort chosen to host next year’s G7 summitTrump resort chosen to host next year’s G7 summit

Extinction Rebellion expresses ‘sadness’ over Tube stunt fall-outExtinction Rebellion expresses ‘sadness’ over Tube stunt fall-out

EU envoy ‘disagreed with Trump’s order on Ukraine policy’EU envoy ‘disagreed with Trump’s order on Ukraine policy’

Duckenfield had opportunity to change Hillsborough match plans, court toldDuckenfield had opportunity to change Hillsborough match plans, court told


Lifestyle

Sexual politics, snideput-downs and family rivalries are fuelling the trouble brewing in a small Midlands town.Charlie Murphy and Pat Shortt star in new Irish film 'Dark lies the Island'

Robert Hume tells of the eccentric MP for Athboy, Co. Meath – born 300 years ago this month – who thought he was a teapot, and was afraid his spout might break off.A strange brew of a man: The MP for Meath who believed he was a teapot

Ladysbridge and District Flower and Garden Club will meet on Monday at 8pm in Garryvoe Hotel.Gardening Notes: Your one-stop guide to the week's events

Don’t forget to lavish roses with the attention they deserve this winter, urges Hannah StephensonDon’t forget to lavish roses with the attention they deserve this winter

More From The Irish Examiner