Climate emergency | Limiting warming to 2°C is still possible

If the chances of limiting global warming to 1.5°C melt like snow in the sun, the world can still hope not to exceed 2°C by the end of the century. This is the conclusion of a study published Wednesday in the journal Naturewhich, however, issues a warning: to achieve this, promises will have to be translated into action as quickly as possible.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Eric-Pierre Champagne

Eric-Pierre Champagne
The Press

2°C: yes, but…

“Here we show that global warming [par rapport aux niveaux préindustriels] can be kept to just below 2°C if all conditional and unconditional commitments are implemented in full and on time. This is the main conclusion of a study published Wednesday in Nature by an international team of scientists. This new study offers a slightly more positive outlook than the last forecasts indicating a warming of more than 2 ℃ by 2100. But the path to get there will require colossal efforts, it is recalled. Concrete policies and actions are ‘urgently’ required to ‘drive emissions reductions [de CO2] during this decade”. The commitments announced by the various governments of the planet to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 will have to be respected, point out the researchers.

” Some good news ”

“We need to do a lot more to fight climate change, but there is good news for once,” Zeke Hausfather wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday. This renowned scientist, who also contributes to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commented on this new study entitled Fulfilling Paris Agreement promises could limit warming to just below 2 degrees. In an analysis also published Wednesday in NatureMr. Hausfather says he agrees with his colleagues’ calculations, on the strict condition that the commitments made by governments are “supported by short-term policies”. “Long-term goals should be treated with skepticism if they are not backed by short-term commitments to put countries on track to achieve those goals over the next decade,” he said. .

The importance of the Paris Agreement

” This shows that [l’accord de] Paris was important. It was a success in raising climate ambitions,” says Damon Matthews, professor in the Department of Geography, Urban Planning and Environment and holder of the Research Chair in Climatology and Sustainability at Concordia University. The Montreal researcher recalls that before COP21, in Paris in 2015, the various scenarios predicted an average warming of 4 to 5°C by the end of the century. “More than 10 years ago, we were very far from the goal [de l’accord de Paris]we are going forward. Who knows where we will be in 10 years? “, he launches.

1.5°C out of range?

Could we manage to contain the warming to 1.5 ℃ above the level of the pre-industrial era? “Our chances are getting slimmer and slimmer,” Mr. Matthews recently admitted to The Press. This is also the opinion of Zeke Hausfather. “Unfortunately, it is also increasingly clear that the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C is out of reach,” he said in his analysis published in Nature. The climate specialist points out that the global temperature has already increased by around 1.2°C since the end of the 1800s and that meeting current commitments offers only a 6 to 10% chance of remaining below 1. .5°C during this century. In its most recent report, the IPCC stated that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak no later than 2025 and decline significantly thereafter to limit warming to 1.5℃. More and more scientists believe that this goal is practically impossible to achieve.

Several assumptions will have to come true

This peer-reviewed study was carried out by a team of researchers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the UN and the University of Melbourne, led by climatologist Malte Meinshausen. In particular, the scientists analyzed inventory data and officially submitted targets from 196 countries, from the Paris Agreement until after COP26 on November 11, 2021. They also took into account emissions from maritime transport and international aviation. Meinshausen’s analysis “is good and seems solid, but there are still assumptions that could be important,” climate scientist Glen Peters of the Global Carbon Project told Agence France-Presse. The biggest of these assumptions is that countries will achieve the promised carbon neutrality, mostly by 2050, but 10 or 20 years later for China and India, he said. “Making commitments for 2050 is easy, backing them up with short-term interventions is difficult,” Peters added before pointing out that in most countries five or six elections will occur by then.

Rise in renewable energies

The International Renewable Energy Agency announced on April 11 that global green energy production capacity increased by 9.1% in 2021. A level deemed insufficient by the agency, which notes however that a drop in costs offers better prospects. According to Pierre-Oliver Pineau, holder of the Chair of Energy Sector Management at HEC Montreal, the world “maintains its energy obesity”. “We face two problems. We are unable to reduce energy demand and we are unable to increase the supply of renewable energies. If we want to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we need extraordinary quantities of renewable energy. »

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  • 80%
    In 2021, renewable energies accounted for 80% of new electricity capacity worldwide.

    Source: International Renewable Energy Agency

    About 60% of new renewable energy installations have been built in Asia, particularly in China. Nearly half (48%) of “green” production capacities are on the Asian continent.

    Source: International Renewable Energy Agency

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