Ten new insights in climate science to stabilise 1.5°C warming

Mika Baumeister

COP26 in Glasgow was an opportunity to consider how the world can join in a combined effort to build a meaningful framework for achieving global warming reductions. The consensus among delegates points towards the success of COP26 in developing a range of multilateral frameworks such as methane gas reduction to allow the world to potentially retain some hope of stabilising global warming at 0.5°. The last-minute withdrawal from China and India to sign up for meaningful coal reduction led to widely reported civil society anger and walkouts from the conference. Is the goal to stabilise global warming at 1.5°C still feasible? Climate scientist prof. dr. Darren McCauley, argues in a new report that it can be done, but only if all sectors can transform.

McCauley wrote the report together with 45 climate scientists worldwide and released the report in advance of COP26. The report covers ten new insights in climate science:

  1. Stabilising at 1.5°C warming is still possible, but immediate and drastic global action is required
  2. Rapid growth in methane and nitrous oxide emissions put us on track for 2.7°C warming
  3. Megafires – climate change forces fire extremes to reach new dimensions with extreme impacts
  4. Climate tipping elements incur high-impact risks
  5. Global climate action must be just
  6. Supporting household behaviour changes is a crucial but often overlooked opportunity for climate action
  7. Political challenges impede effectiveness of carbon pricing
  8. Nature-based solutions are critical for the pathway to Paris – but look at the fine print
  9. Building resilience of marine ecosystems is achievable by climate-adapted conservation and management, and global stewardship
  10. Costs of climate change mitigation can be justified by the multiple immediate benefits to the health of humans and nature

McCauley hopes that report inspires policymakers to take urgent action: “COP26 failed to grapple with the financial redistribution required to achieve such a fair and equitable system needed for climate action. Instead, we find unfulfilled pledges alongside new economic measures that are even more unlikely to be achieved. At the heart of climate justice, there needs to be a more systematic redistribution agreement at the next COP summit in Egypt. What we need is binding commitments to more effective and just action.”

Implications for COP27 Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt

Looking ahead at COP27 McCauley believes it will be time for Africa to lead the conversation. McCauley: “The continent is only responsible for around 3% of global energy consumption and 2% of energy-related carbon dioxide. And yet, it suffers immensely from the effects of climate change – epitomised by the receding snow of Mount Kilimanjaro. Africa will shape our future. We now need to learn how to listen rather than the usual suspects doing more, as Greta Thunberg coined in the build up to COP26, “blah blah blah”. All ten insights indicated above must be Africa centred. At the heart of this objective is insight 5 – global climate action must be more just. This begins with recognising the global imbalance of benefits, ills, rights and responsibilities and ultimately coming up with meaningful action to correct it.”

10 new insight in climate science

More information

Martin, M., Sendra, O., Bastos, A., Bauer, N., Bertram, C., Blenckner, T., . . . Woodcock, J. (2021). Ten new insights in climate science 2021: A horizon scan. Global Sustainability, 4, E25. doi:10.1017/sus.2021.25https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/global-sustainability/article/ten-new-insights-in-climate-science-2021-a-horizon-scan/F8154615FCDB3453D7C6E198B9AFD114



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