The problems we see today will intensify dramatically, says the climate researcher on what some have described as good news.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global warming could be limited to 1.8 degrees if climate promises from Glasgow are fulfilled.
The IEA’s analysis is based on model calculations based on the fact that all promises from Glasgow on so-called net zero emissions (the balance between climate emissions and the uptake of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) and promises on reducing methane emissions are being kept.
See the separate fact box on climate concepts further down in the case.
During the Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow, more than 80 countries committed to reducing methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Several Western countries reported ambitious targets and promises to the United Nations for zero emissions by 2050. China and India aim for zero emissions by 2030. net zero by 2060 and 2070, respectively.
“Big news. Climate promises from COP26 mean Glasgow is getting closer to Paris. New IEA analyzes show global warming is limited to 1.8 degrees if we deliver on the net promises of zero emissions so far and the promise of global methane to those who have signed on to it. This is a huge step forward, but there is still a lot to be done,” wrote IEA President Fatih Birol. Twitter.
The problems are getting worse
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, preferably 1.5 degrees. If the IEA estimate is correct, and all countries comply with the promises made so far, global warming could be limited to 1.8 degrees.
How will global warming affect 1.8 degrees?
– The UN Climate Panel has a report of 1.5 and 2 degree warming patterns. We didn’t look closely at between the two levels. But it will be closer to two degrees than 1.5 degrees. The problems we see today will be greatly exacerbated. We will see more intense rain and drought,” climate researcher and senior researcher in the Department of Model and Climate Analysis at the Meteorological Institute, Rasmus Benestad, tells Nettavisen.
– He adds that we have a huge task ahead when it comes to climate adaptation and climate measures.
There is a big difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming, says Steffen Kallbekken, head of research at the CICERO Center for Climate Research.
– There is a clear difference in the consequences of a warming of 1.5 degrees and two degrees, and the warming of 1.8 degrees would be halfway between the two estimates. It’s hard for me to be something more concrete than that. With a two degree rise in temperature, there will be much more severe weather than with a 1.5 degree rise in temperature. Far more people will be exposed to water shortages and there will be a big difference in biodiversity loss between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming, Calbequin tells Nettavisen.
Climate change has very different impacts on different parts of the world. For some small island nations, a two-degree rise in temperature would be disastrous. While Norway does better, as we often do. We are well protected from the worst of climate change and, in this sense, it is not an existential threat to Norway as it is to some island nations. Kalbekin says Norway will be affected by what happens in the rest of the world, such as economic development, global trade and refugee flows.
Facts about climate concepts
net zero emissions: To stabilize the global average temperature, greenhouse gas emissions must be “net zero”. Net zero emissions are achieved when there is a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas uptake. Then you must remove at least the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the atmosphere. In the Paris Agreement, net zero emissions is “a balance between anthropogenic emissions from sources and greenhouse gas emissions in the second half of our century”.
carbon budget: Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years after emissions and the natural uptake of carbon dioxide through the carbon cycle at sea and on land is slow. This means that net cumulative carbon dioxide emissions lead to an increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and a corresponding increase in temperature. Net emissions means that carbon dioxide uptake is subtracted from human-made carbon dioxide emissions.
If global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C, there is a limit to net carbon dioxide emissions, the so-called carbon budget. See the next report for the exact definition. How quickly carbon dioxide is emitted determines the number of years left until emissions must be “net zero”. Scientists often work with different levels of probability to reach a particular temperature target due to the uncertainties in the climate system.
Carbon removal rate: If heating is to be limited to 1.5°C or 2°C without using much of the carbon budget, very rapid changes are needed in electricity production, the transportation sector, the construction sector, the agricultural sector, and industry. The longer carbon dioxide emissions persist at the same level as today, the faster carbon must be removed. More information on this is expected in the IPCC report.
Negative Emissions Technologies: Negative Emissions Technologies are technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and will be necessary in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If one does not succeed in achieving sufficient emission reductions, so that the carbon budget is used and the temperature target is temporarily exceeded, this will increase the need to use technologies for negative emissions so that the temperature drops again. Technologies and methods that contribute to negative emissions are afforestation and forest management to increase carbon storage in vegetation and soil, and carbon neutral bioenergy along with carbon capture and storage. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, a possible technology, generates electricity through the combustion of sustainably grown bioenergy crops and forest waste, and prevents the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by capturing it in an incinerator and then storing it underground. If this type of technology is developed on a large scale, it can help reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so that the temperature returns to a certain level. It should be noted that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage can also have consequences for land use and food security. Even with the use of technologies for negative emissions, emissions reduction measures for other climate forces, such as methane and soot, will be needed.
Carbon capture and storage: Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing carbon dioxide from combustion exhaust gases from factories and power plants, and then storing it in underground geologic formations. The technology is in use today, but not on a large scale.
The increase is already 1.1 degrees
The global average temperature has already risen by 1.1 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. This summer, industrialized countries have also noticed the effects of persistent climate changes, such as floods in Germany, heat waves in Europe and wildfires in Siberia.
We’ve already seen how important a 1.1 degree warming is for wildfires, heat waves and floods. When we get an amplified heating effect, the water cycle changes – that is, how water evaporates, how clouds form, and how precipitation occurs. This is of great importance for subtropical regions like the Mediterranean and the Middle East, says Benstad, where there are already some water shortages.
This will also affect sea levels. Many coastal areas will be affected. We’ve already heard about the Pacific islands that would be under water, says Benstad, but Florida and Bangladesh are also in poor shape.
Facts about climate change
*The Earth’s average temperature is now just over 1 degree higher than it was at the end of the 19th century.
* There is no doubt that human activity has warmed the world, as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in its new report in 2021.
* Humanity’s impact on the climate is mainly due to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases that increase the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere.
* Emissions come from the combustion of coal, oil and gas, deforestation, agriculture, and industrial processes. This is in addition to greenhouse gas emissions from natural sources.
* Rising soil temperatures lead to sea level rise, more intense heat waves, new rainfall patterns, droughts, floods and species extinctions.
Sea-level rise, heat waves and droughts can increase migration in many parts of the world. High temperatures and drought can make food production difficult in some areas.
* Climate change is expected to become more comprehensive in line with greenhouse gas emissions. Despite many years of policy discussions and investment in renewable energy, global emissions have continued to increase.
(Category: IPCC, NASA, NOAA, NTB)
I think 2.7 is the most likely
Kallbekken thinks the world is unlikely to be able to keep the temperature rise below 1.8 degrees with current climate policy, and thinks it is likely to be 2.7 degrees.
One should be a little wary about believing in all the long-term climate promises that are coming out of Glasgow, especially when we see that they are unable to pursue short-term climate policy. We will most likely end up with a rise above 1.8 degrees as things look today. Based on current policy, we are likely to end up at 2.7 degrees, says the CICERO researcher.
– At a temperature rise of 2.7 degrees, we are talking about very serious consequences for large parts of the globe. Calbequin says the difference between 1.5 and 2.7 degrees is too big.
The United Nations Climate Panel estimated earlier this fall – based on then-emissions promises – that the world was on course for a warming of 2.7 degrees.
The most important thing that happened in Glasgow is that a number of countries made new promises on emissions. India has a rather significant tightening, while China has nothing new to report. Calbekin says there are some clear steps in the right direction, but they are still too slow.
Both China and India will continue to increase their climate emissions in the coming years. However, India has sharpened its ambitions and says it will slow growth and reach a peak in emissions in 2040. However, India maintains that it needs climate finance from industrialized nations if it is to be able to reach its emissions targets.
– The world is changing so fast
Benstad points out that society is changing rapidly, and a lot could happen in green technology in the coming years.
In three years, the watchdog may have a different message. The world is changing very quickly. We’ve seen this with new technology like cell phones and social media. We didn’t know solar energy would be so efficient ten years ago. Things went better there than we had hoped. It is difficult to predict what will happen in five years. Carbon capture and storage can also have a significant impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, he says.
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