Climate Change: Scientists confirm that the World is heading
for 3.5 C warming increase
by Staff Writers
Durban, South Africa (AFP) Dec 6, 2011
Current pledges for curbing carbon emissions will doom the world
to global warming of 3.5 C, massively overshooting the UN target
of 2 C, researchers reported at the climate talks here on Tuesday.
Output of heat-trapping carbon gases is rising so fast that
governments have only four years left to avert a massive extra
bill for meeting the two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
target, they said.
"The current pledges are heading towards a global emissions
pathway that will take warming to 3.5 C goal (6.3 F)," according
to an estimate issued by a consortium of German researchers.
The world is on a "high-warming, high-cost, high-risk pathway,"
The report, compiled by Climate Analytics and Ecofys, which are
German firms that specialise in carbon data, was issued on the
sidelines of the 194-nation UN talks in Durban. The 12-day
conference runs until Friday.
The 2 C (3.6 F) goal, initiated at the stormy Copenhagen Summit of
2009, was enshrined at last year's conference of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) along with a less feasible
target of 1.5 C (2.7 F).
Accompanying these objectives is a roster of pledges by
nation-states about what they intend to do to rein in their
The promises mark the first time that all countries have been
coaxed into declaring specific carbon-curbing actions.
But the measures are not subject to any international compliance
regime and do not incur any penalties if they are not met.
The report said current pledges would lead to global emissions in
2020 of 55 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) or its
equivalent in 2020. This is 11 billion tonnes above the 44 billion
tonnes consistent with meeting the 2 C (3.6 F) objective smoothly.
As a result, costs in energy efficiency and switching to cleaner
power will rise very sharply after 2020 in order to recover lost
headway. Global emissions would have to fall by 3.8 percent
annually from 2020 to 2050, using 2000 as the benchmark year per
But this effort would be roughly halved, to two percent, if action
to brake emissions growth is initiated within the next three years
to bring the tally back on line to 44 billion tonnes by 2020.
The figures carried in the report concur with similar estimates,
published last month by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and
the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Scientists caution that 2 C (3.6 F) is no guarantee of a safe
haven against climate change and consider 3.5 C (6.3 F) to be an
extremely dangerous scenario.
It would badly worsen droughts, flood and storms and affect sea
levels, spelling famine and homelessness for tens of millions.
Already, 0.8 C (1.44 F) of the 2 C (3.6 F) has occurred since the
start of the Industrial Revolution, when coal -- followed by oil
and gas -- powered the rise to prosperity.