New Study on Climate Change

  • IASbaba
  • February 18, 2022
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  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

New Study on Climate Change

About Paris Climate Accord

  • Objective: It is a multilateral agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); signed to reduce, mitigate greenhouse-gas-emissions. 
  • Temperature Targets: To slow the process of global warming by limiting a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 
  • Emission Goals: Another crucial point in this agreement was attaining “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. Nations have pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.  
  • Burden Sharing: Developed countries were also told to provide financial resources to help developing countries in dealing with climate change and for adaptation measures. Other countries are invited to provide support on voluntary basis. 
  • Non-binding Voluntary Targets: The Paris Agreement requires that all countries — rich, poor, developed, and developing — slash greenhouse gas emissions. Nations voluntarily set their emissions targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.

Is the world doing enough to tackle global warming? 

  • As of today, human activities have already caused global temperatures to rise by about 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1950-1900).
  • Another study published in Nature in September 2021 said that the global oil and gas production should decline by three percent per year until 2050 to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • In August 2021, independent charitable organisation Oxfam said that the ‘net zero’ carbon targets that many countries have been announcing may be a “dangerous distraction” from the priority of cutting carbon emissions. 
  • Oxfam said that the world needs to collectively be on track and should aim to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.

What the new study says?

  • The recent study simulated 100,000 possible future policy and emissions trajectories to identify the variables that are relevant to the climate-social system that are likely to impact climate change through this century.
  • Overall, these trajectories fell into five clusters, with warming varying between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Celsius above the 1880-1910 average in the year 2100. 
  • The study says that there is a “strong probability” of warming between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius at the end of the century.
  • These five possibilities suggest that none of them meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 
  • But the authors do suggest that there is a substantial chance of meeting the 2 degrees Celsius target.
  • Important determinants of the degree to which the climate will change over the 21st century are:
    • Public perceptions of climate change
    • Future cost and effectiveness of climate mitigation and technologies
    • How political institutions respond to public pressure 
  • Small changes in some variables, like the responsiveness of the political system or the level of public support for climate policy, can drastically change the emissions trajectory over the century
  • Essentially the authors are saying that while scientists make projections related to climate change, they should also take into account the effects of climate policy and social change.

Connecting the dots:

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