Global warming Climate researchers present report on the 1.5 degree target

Global warming Climate researchers present report on the 1.5 degree target

Global warming Climate researchers present report on the 1.5 degree target

The carbon dioxide clock at the MCC climate research institute in Berlin is ticking relentlessly. It shows how many tons of CO2 can still be emitted if humans want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees. If you enter the 1.5 degree target and choose a medium scenario, the clock on the MCC website has just expired for a few weeks. According to this, no more CO2 should be produced at all, and some would even have to be taken from the air. With the 2-degree target, mankind can still produce CO2 for around 17 years – a total of 720 gigatons.

This scenario is based on data from the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2014 and is one of many similar that researchers have created in recent years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now wants to explain in a special report whether humanity can still slow down global warming at 1.5 degrees and what needs to be done to achieve this. According to the IPCC Germany, a core team of 91 authors and 250 other researchers analyzed 6,000 publications by around 24,000 experts. The resulting text is to be debated with representatives of all 195 IPCC member countries in Incheon (South Korea) from this Monday and published on October 8th.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, UN Secretary General António Guterres recently underlined that time is pressing for climate protection. He spoke of a “direct existential threat from climate change”. In the past two decades alone, 18 of the warmest years since the start of the series of measurements in 1850 have been recorded. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is the highest in three million years – “and it is increasing”.

Most researchers agree that the world is heading for 3 to 4 degrees warming without additional effort. In the 2015 Paris Agreement, the politicians decided to limit global warming to well below two degrees, if possible to 1.5 degrees. The latter was what the small island states in particular wanted. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was given the task of describing the consequences of a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees and what still needs to be done to achieve the 1.5 degree target.

“We have already reached roughly one degree of warming,” said Katja Frieler from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The greenhouse gas emissions have already made heat waves like those in the past months much more frequent and will make them even more frequent in the future.”

The difference of 0.5 degrees between the 1.5 and the 2 degree scenario alone can have immense effects on life on earth. “Every tenth of a degree increase in temperature means a greater risk for our society,” says Frieler. The number of droughts has already increased and water availability has decreased in many places. In some countries like Morocco or Syria there are already water conflicts.

Compliance with the 1.5 degree target could significantly reduce the number of heavy rain events and heat waves, writes the Berlin climate research institute Climate Analytics in a blog with reference to various studies. “Limiting the global mean temperature rise to 1.5 degrees compared to the 2-degree scenario could reduce the global risk for this type of extreme event by a third.”

Many researchers assume that CO2 will have to be extracted from the air again in the future. This can be done by planting trees, for example, or by burning plants and then storing the resulting CO2 in floor chambers. The techniques will be particularly relevant for the extremely ambitious 1.5-degree target, said Oliver Geden, who is a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. This could also be significant “to offset currently unavoidable emissions from agriculture, industry or air traffic.” However, by far the largest share of emissions reductions must be achieved through traditional climate protection.

In the end, UN chief Guterres was still optimistic. “The good news is: the technology is on our side.” Renewable energies are cheaper and more competitive than ever before. “Far from being a fundamental threat to the economy, climate protection creates new industries, new markets, more jobs and less dependence on fossil fuels.” The IPCC 1.5 degree report is also intended as the basis for the next UN -Climatic summit in December in Katowice, Poland.