Climate experts warn world leaders that 1.5C is ‘real science’, not just talk | policeman 26

The temperature limit of 1.5 C, to be discussed by world leaders at critical meetings this weekend, is a vital physical threshold for the planet’s climate, and not an arbitrary political construction that can be haggled over, leading climate scientists have warned.

World leaders will meet in Rome and Glasgow over the next four days to push through a common approach aimed at keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, the lower of two limits set out in the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

But some countries are reluctant to link their emissions plans to the tougher target, as it would require more urgent action. They prefer to consider long – term goals as net zero in 2050.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the world’s leading climate scientists, warned that the 1.5C target was not like other political negotiations that one can haggle over or compromise on.

“A rise of 1.5C is not an arbitrary number, it is not a political number. It is a planetary limit,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “Every fraction of a degree more is dangerous.”

Allowing temperatures to rise by more than 1.5 degrees would significantly increase the risk of irreversible climate change, he said. For example, it would increase the risk of the Arctic losing its summer ice, with severe spillover effects on the rest of the climate, as the loss of reflective ice increases the amount of heat that the water absorbs, in a feedback loop that could quickly raise the temperature more.

The inland ice in Greenland, whose melting would increase sea level rises, could also tumble into a state of irreversible fall above 1.5C.

An increase of more than 1.5 C will also threaten changes in the Gulf Stream, which may also become irreversible. It could result in disaster for biodiversity hotspots, damaging agriculture across parts of the globe and could flood small islands and low-lying coastal areas.

2050: what happens if we ignore the climate crisis - video explanation
2050: what happens if we ignore the climate crisis – video explanation

“This is real science – it’s a real number. Now we can say it with a high degree of confidence,” he said, as 1.5 C indicated a physical limit to the warming that the planet can safely absorb.

Rockström added: “[Staying within] 1.5C is obtainable. That is definitely what we are going for. ”

The leaders of the G20 group of the world’s largest economies – developed and developing – will meet on Saturday in Rome. They fly to Glasgow on Monday morning, where they will be joined by more than 100 leaders from the rest of the world for the UN Cop26 climate summit.

Britain, as host of Cop26, has set itself the goal of “keeping 1.5C alive”, but some countries – including China, Saudi Arabia and Russia – have been reluctant to agree to focus on the 1.5C limit, and prefers to point out that the Paris Agreement states that the world must keep the temperature “well below” 2C, while “pursuing the effort” to stay within 1.5C.

However, scientific research since the signing of the Paris Agreement has added a compelling collection of global science that shows that if temperatures are allowed to rise by more than 1.5 C, the consequences will be severely damaging, and many are likely to be irreversible.

Other leading climate scientists repeated Rockström’s warnings. Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth Systems Science at University College London, said: “The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2018 made the science very clear: There are significant climate impacts around the world, even if we limit warming to 1.5 C.

“The report also showed that there were significant increases in impacts and injuries if we exceed this target … These findings were fully supported by the very latest 2021 IPCC science report [published in August]. This is science, and these agreed climate goals set by the Paris Agreement are not negotiable and have already been agreed by all 197 countries of the United Nations. “

Joeri Rogelj, research director at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said: “Science tells us that the risks of climate change are rising rapidly between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. We look at the last few years where we experienced some of the effects of a 1.2C warmer world [such as heatwaves, flooding and extreme weather] – one would be hard pressed to call this safe.

Why the world is getting warmer and how you can help - video explanation
Why the world is getting warmer and how you can help – video explanation

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