COP26 Agreements Likely to Fall Short of Paris Agreement Goals
According to a new analysis by the University of Exeter and the Met Office, the commitments made by world leaders at COP26 will likely not be enough to reach the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. In fact, based on the current trajectory, we can expect to see warming of 2 to 5 degrees by the end of the century.
Sky News reports that this analysis, which served as the background for the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3), found climate change to have already made a notable impact across the board. From human health to infrastructure to supply chains, virtually no realm of life can expect to remain untouched by continued temperature rise.
Climate Change Committee: Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk (CCRA3), June 15, 2021
Why This Matters
Even at just 2 degrees of warming, the UK can expect economic damages exceeding £1 billion annually. By 2045, the cost of climate change is expected to increase to at least 1% of the country's GDP. And because climate change is already posing risks to both people and the environment, these effects will only intensify if the planet warms to the extent the report predicts.
The report's lead researcher and Met Office's Head of Climate Impacts Research, Professor Richard Betts, emphasizes that the report's findings do not mean that all hope is lost. Instead, the scientific and diplomatic shortcomings of the commitments made at COP26 highlight the need for more urgent, resiliency-oriented action moving forward, stating:
Limiting warming to lower levels may still be achievable if global emissions are rapidly reduced to net zero or net negative, but even if global warming is successfully limited to between 1.5 and 2, weather patterns will still be different to those in recent decades, and sea levels will continue to rise to some extent… We need to be better prepared for the climate changes we have already caused.
Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.
PBS: Melting of the Thwaites Glacier could rewrite the global coastline, December 15, 2021.
The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.