It is possible that even if global warming is anthropogenic in origin, mankind is not actually able to stop it.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a sobering read but not a surprising one. It predicts that the world will breach the carbon emissions targets set at the Paris summit in 2015 earlier than expected. Signatory countries agreed to try to keep temperature rises below 2C while “pursuing efforts” to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC said in 2018 that the 1.5C target would be breached by 2040 unless action is taken and the latest study confirms this forecast.
The report also says it is unarguable that the warming has been caused by human activity and therefore only a reduction in that activity can keep temperature rises within bounds. It is, of course, possible that even if warming is anthropogenic in origin, mankind is not actually able to stop it. Once the climate has started to change, the capacity of humans to adjust the planetary thermostat may well be limited. That does not mean we should not try because reducing pollutants is a good thing in itself, whether or not it is linked to warming. Indeed, countries like the UK have devised strategies for cutting carbon that will be hugely expensive to implement but are seen as essential. The problem is that we contribute less than two per cent of annual global emissions.
Scientists say if these can be halved by 2030 and net zero achieved by the middle of this century, it might be possible to reverse the rise in temperatures. But this is simply not going to happen unless the worst polluters, like China, India and the US, show much bigger reductions. Getting them to commit to far more drastic cuts is the challenge for the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November and yet there is little indication much will change. Despite the economic slowdown occasioned by the pandemic, China’s CO2 emissions have grown at their fastest pace in more than a decade. Unless the biggest emitters cut back – and that includes developing countries that look askance at rich nations telling them what to do – the IPCC says warming cannot be stopped. It forecasts worse storms, heat waves, sea- level rises and widespread disruption.
But if something is unavoidable then it needs to be prepared for. Cajoling countries that are unwilling to listen may be a fruitless exercise. Adapting our lives to cope with inevitable warming is just as important as identifying the cause.
via The Global Warming Policy Forum
August 10, 2021 at 01:25AM