Targets must triple to limit global heating to 2 degrees

By on 25 September, 2019

Current global targets would lead to ‘catastrophic’ increases in global temperature, United in Science report finds.

A report backed by the world’s key climate science bodies has found that the climate is changing more quickly than forecast, and emission reduction targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement must be drastically increased if its goals are to be realised.

The landmark report was convened by the science advisory group of the UN’s Climate Action Summit 2019, as over 4 million people worldwide participated in strikes to demand stronger action on climate change, including 300,000 in Australia.

The report found that the existing emissions reductions targets need to be increased threefold to achieve the goal of limiting global heating to 2 degrees Celsius, and would need to be increased threefold to achieve a 1.5 degree limit.

Australia has backed away from its Paris Agreement commitments, is not on track to meet them, and the global agreement cannot be met if Australia achieves its planned fossil fuel expansion.

A summary of key findings form the United in Science report.

The response to the report’s findings from Australia’s scientific community has been damning. Ian Lowe, Emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, called it an urgent wake up call to world leaders.

“It is a clear reminder that proposals to develop new thermal coal mines or expand gas production are criminally irresponsible,” he said.

“Our leaders should accept the three demands of the striking students – no new fossil fuel projects, a goal of 100% renewables by 2030 and political commitment to a just transition for those whose livelihoods will be affected by the measures we now need to adopt urgently to avert disastrous consequences.”

Dr. Jon Symons, senior lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, said that the report reveals that there is a vast gap between rhetoric and action around climate change.

“Collectively, G20 countries are not on track to meet the commitments made under the Paris agreement. However, the Paris targets are themselves hopelessly inadequate. Even if fully implemented, global emissions would actually be higher in 2030 than today,” he said.

Dr. Symons said that Australia’s political debate seems entirely disconnected from the scientific realities captured in the ‘United in Science’ report.

“It is not only that the Morrison Government lacks effective mitigation policies, it is failing to honour even some of its key promises. For example, it is not fulfilling its 2015 “Mission Innovation” pledge to double government spending on clean energy research and development by 2020,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the urgent need to develop negative emissions technologies has not yet entered mainstream debate. If current trends continue we may soon also be debating more drastic and risky interventions.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in the US, but did not attend the Climate Action Summit, spending his time admiring ‘smart drive thru’ technology instead.

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