‘Watered-down hope’: Experts wanted more from climate pact

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While world leaders consider the Glasgow climate agreement a good agreement that survives a critical temperature range, scientists are far more skeptical.

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Glasgow, Scotland – While world leaders and negotiators are touting the Glasgow climate accord as a good deal that keeps a critical temperature range alive, many scientists are wondering what planet these leaders are looking at.

Lowering the numbers they see a different and warmer Earth.

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“In the big picture I think, yes, we have a good plan to keep the 1.5 degree target within our possibilities,” UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa told The Associated Press. Celsius (2.7 °F) from pre-industrial times.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the conference’s host, agreed, calling the deal a “clear road map limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius”.

But many scientists are far more skeptical. Forget 1.5 degrees, he says. Earth is still on its way to exceed 2 degrees (3.6 Fahrenheit).

“The 1.5C target was already on life support before Glasgow and it’s time to declare it dead,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheim told the Associated Press in an email on Sunday.

Of the 13 scientists the interviewed about the Glasgow Agreement, some said they see enough progress to survive the 1.5°C limit – and with it, some hope. But hardly.

Optimists point to a number of agreements that have emerged out of Glasgow, including a United States-China deal to work together to cut emissions this decade, as well as separate multi-nation agreements that deal with methane emissions and coal. Targets powered by electricity. After six years of failure, a market-based mechanism will kick-start the trading credits that reduce carbon in the air.

The 1.5-degree mark is the stricter of the two targets from the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement. UN officials and scientists consider this important as a 2018 scientific report found a dramatically worse effect on the world after 1.5 degrees.

The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, so it’s actually about a few tenths of a degree higher. The United Nations calculated that to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, countries need to cut their emissions in half by 2030. Espinosa said emissions have been reducing by about 14% since 2010.

German researcher Hans-Otto Portner said that the Glasgow conference was “work done, but not enough progress.”

“Warming will exceed 2 °C. This development also threatens nature, human life, livelihoods, habitat and prosperity,” said Portner, who co-chairs one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Reports. upon which the United Nations depends.

According to the scientists running the computer simulations, instead of the major changes in turning the temperature curve, as the United Nations had expected from Glasgow, they found only small changes.

Zeke Hausfader, climate scientist and director of the Breakthrough Institute, said in an email, “Leaving out of Glasgow we’ve reduced by probably 0.1C from warming … for the best estimate of 2.3C warming. Hausfather, along with collaborators for Carbon Climate modelling. Brief.

MIT professor John Starman said his Climate Interactive team dropped some of the initial numbers after the Glasgow deal was revealed and it did not match the optimism of the leaders.

“If coal is not phased out … and as soon as possible with oil and gas, there is no plausible way to limit warming to 1.5 or 2 (degrees),” he said.

On Saturday, India got a last-minute change in the agreement: instead of “phasing out” coal and fossil fuel subsidies, subsidies are to be “phased out”. Many scientists said that no matter what the deal says, coal needs to be eliminated to reduce future heat, not just decrease.

“‘Reducing’ would lessen the harmful effects of climate change than ‘eliminating’ it,” former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, who runs environmental research at the University of Colorado, said in an email.

Before the agreement expired, the Climate Action Tracker, which analyzes pledges to see how much warming they would cause, said emissions-cutting pledges would lead to 2.4 degrees of warming.

Australia’s tracker scientist Bill Hare said the “1.5 figure” is balanced on a knife’s edge.

A paragraph in the agreement – ​​which calls on countries whose emissions-cutting targets do not conform to the 1.5- or 2-degree thresholds to come back with stronger new targets by the end of next year – gives hope, green he said.

But US climate envoy John Kerry said Saturday night that the paragraph probably does not apply to the United States, which is the second largest coal emitter and historically the largest, because the US target is so strong.

Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist who is dean of the University of Michigan’s School of the Environment, said the agreement “has dampened hope. … we’ve got an incomplete plan for slow action.”

“I went to (the conference) thinking that 1.5C is still alive, and it appears that world leaders don’t have the backbone for it,” Overpeck said in an email.

Some progress has been made, said climate scientist Donald Vuebles of the University of Illinois, one of the lead authors of the US National Climate Assessment. “But the chances of reaching 1.5 degrees are greatly reduced, even to the point of being nearly impossible. The chances of being able to reach even 2 degrees are slim.”

But some scientists gave up hope.

“For the first time, I can actually see a possible way to limit warming to 1.5C,” climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University said in an email. “But this will require both (a) countries to deliver on their existing promises and (b) to further pursue their existing commitments.”

As Johann Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact and Research in Germany highlights the “optimistic” scenario, he and a few others look to see whether all countries that have promised net-zero emissions by mid-century have actually achieved the goal. Let’s do – nothing is like this but concrete action has been started.

In that case, warming could be limited to 1.8 degrees or 1.9 degrees, Rockstrom said.

“This is a significant progress, but far from sufficient,” he said.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. is solely responsible for all content.

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