World Could Warm Less Than 2 Degrees -- If Governments Keep Their Promises

World Could Warm Less Than 2 Degrees -- If Governments Keep Their Promises

A global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius could be prevented if countries keep the climate pledges they made at last year’s COP26, a new study claims. Temperature increase could peak at 1.9 degrees Celsius, just under the threshold that would trigger climate change’s worst effects if crossed. But, not all countries have public plans to implement their pledges.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

IPCC: Video message by UN Secretary General at the WGIII AR6 press conference, April 4, 2022.

Why This Matters

For the first time, government emissions targets are ambitious enough to prevent dangerous temperature increases of 2 degrees or more. Christopher McGlade, IEA’s head of the Energy Supply Unit and a contributor to the study, told the Guardian, “these results are clearly a cause for optimism.” Adding, “We have come a long way since the Paris Agreement was signed back in 2015.”

But governments need to act fast, McGlade warns. “The real work has to start,” he said. “The pledges have not yet been backed up by the strong and near-term promises needed to make them a reality.” So far, countries and companies have not kept their climate pledges. Last year, emissions hit their highest levels ever and could increase by as much as 7-15% by 2030.

BBC: UN scientists say it's 'now or never' to limit global warming, April 4, 2022.

IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use, March 18, 2022.

A World Beyond 2 Degrees Celsius

Without intervention, rising carbon emissions will cause drastic temperature increases. Malte Meinhausen, a co-author of the study, warned in a press conference that the world would "blast through the remaining admission carbon budget for 1.5 degrees just this decade.” Eventually, the world could warm more than three degrees.

Though temperature rise is reversible (if carbon emissions were reduced, the earth would cool over time), the consequences of a warmer world are permanent. Mass extinction, the death of coral reefs, and extreme weather are all projected outcomes. As ecologist Camille Parmesan, told Grist, “Humans can control human actions, but humans cannot control the biosphere’s responses to climate change.”

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

60 Minutes: The "bit of good news" on climate change, October 4, 2020.