Guardian climate reporters have today made the effort at the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
By the end of this year, the world will have burned 86% of the carbon “budget” that would allow us just a coin toss’s chance of staying below 1.5C. The Glasgow COP negotiations will somehow have to bridge this gaping hole, with scientists warning that the world will have to reduce emissions by half of this decade before they are reset by 2050.
“2.7C would be very bad,” said Michael Wehner, who specializes in climate attribution at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explaining that extreme rainfall would be up to a quarter heavier than now, and heat waves potentially 6C warmer in many countries. Amanda Maycock, an expert in climate dynamics at the University of Leeds, added that much of the planet will become “uninhabitable” at this warming level. “We would not live in that world,” she said.
A scenario approaching a form of apocalypse emerges comfortably if the world warms up by 4C or more, and although this is considered unlikely due to the delayed action of governments, it should provide some consolation.
Every decision — every lease of oil wells, every acre of Amazon rainforest burned for livestock, every new gas-guzzling SUV that rolls out on the road — will determine how far we tumble down the hill. In Glasgow, governments will be challenged to show that they will fight every fraction of temperature rises, otherwise this central assembly risks being dismissed as “blah, blah, blah”, in the words of Greta Thunberg.
“We’ve run down the clock, but it’s never too late,” Rogelj said. “1.7C is better than 1.9C, which is better than 3C. Reducing emissions tomorrow is better than the day after, because we can always avoid getting worse. The action is far too slow at the moment, but we can still act. ”
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