The Heat Is Online

World on course for 4 degrees C warming by 2100

UN: globe headed for four degrees of warming by 2100, Nov. 20, 2013

A global analysis of current climate policies and pledges to cut emissions indicates that temperatures may rise by as much as 3.7 degrees celsius by end of the century—well over the so-called 'safe' warming target of two degrees the world set for itself in the Copenhagen Accord of 2009.

The Climate Action Tracker, released at that UN Climate Conference in Warsaw today, has concluded that on current trends, the world is headed for almost four degrees of warming.

Speaking from the summit in Warsaw, Dr Bill Hare, director at Climate Analytics, says that the findings spell bad news for the world's ecosystems.

‘The headline finding is that the actions being taken by countries is actually not even going to meet the pledges that they’ve made,’ Dr Hare said. 

‘That warming of about four degrees would provoke really major problems for development in Africa and South Asia, where levels of hunger would be increased significantly, poverty would be increased due to the impacts of extreme events—heatwaves, extreme tropical storms and so on—causing major problems for many people.'

‘Our own Great Barrier Reef would be probably on the borderlines of non-existence by a warming of four degrees.'

The UN data also documents that pledges by individual nations are being abandoned or downgraded, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon telling the conference that the world faces ‘a steep climb’ to reach a 2015 climate deal to cut emissions.

While the projected figures only take into account existing policies and the current deal, Dr Hare is optimistic that a new deal, which could transform the forecast, might be reached by 2015.

'We know that from the science of emissions reductions that this can be done and it can be beneficial,' said Dr Hare.

‘I think for the first time in several years we’re seeing a serious move towards negotiating a new agreement that would be considered by 2015 in Paris. We are beginning to see—despite the pessimism out there—a renewed sense that we really have to deal with problem.’

The Abbott Government’s decision to wind back renewable energy targets and scrap the carbon tax has been met with disbelief and anger at the conference, according to Dr Hare. He says that Australia has a key role to play in the next two years, a time period which he believes is critical to the global climate change movement.

‘If it doesn’t turn out a strong agreement over the next two years I think that government would be almost ready to walk away from it,' he said.

‘But we are seeing more and more countries saying we will have to stick to the deadline in 2015, we have to be ambitious.'
‘I’m a bit worried that Australia’s moving into a negative actor role. I don’t think we’ve seen the complete picture here in Warsaw... but the signals are not positive.’