A year later and we are watching COP27 unfold. Geophysicist and climate hazards scientist Bill McGuire explains the importance of COP27 acknowledging that the target of limiting warming to 1.5°C is now no longer viable. The United Nations Environment Programme’s most recent report on the emissions gap also stated that there is “no credible pathway” to the 1.5°C goal. Scientists are confirming that instead of dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we are actually seeing increases. Take a look at the recent World Scientist’s Warning of a Climate Emergency (2022) to understand the current levels of human suffering and the trends in planetary vital signs.
As Bill McGuire points out, having targets such as 1.5°C allows for inaction on the part of governments, fossil fuel and associated industries, until it is too late. The GHG emissions – gas concentration – atmospheric warming relationship is simple: more emissions result in higher GHG concentrations that trap heat and cause more warming. Thus, science says that we should be urgently doing all we can to reduce emissions, no matter how small the reduction, since any reduction that will reduce warming is welcome. This is especially important to avoid crashing through warming thresholds that will result in climate tipping points being reached that will have potentially catastrophic effects worldwide.