Global warming set to approach 4C by 2100

By Ed King

Current emissions and mitigation policies have left the world on a trajectory to warm by 4C by 2100, a new report by a group of European climate policy consultants warns.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) coalition say they are increasingly sceptical that pledges made by nations at the UN climate negotiations are being implemented, and warn of an “intensive lock-in” of fossil fuel energy generation.

“If Governments don’t take any further action, we are already facing a 40% chance of warming exceeding 4C by 2100 and a 10% chance of it exceeding 5°C in the same period,” said Dr Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, lead author of the report.

“With these emission trends a warming of 3-4C warming at 2100 won’t stop there. Warming is likely to continue upwards well into the 22nd Century.”

The report has praise for a recent US-China decision to phase out the use of potent greenhouse gases known as HFCs, which are used in fridges. This has the potential to cut warming by 0.5C the authors say.

But CAT say claims that shale gas is a ‘low carbon fuel’ need to be treated with caution.

“Significant negative impacts of shale gas overshadow the possible short term emission reductions”, the report reads, citing a 50% increase in US coal exports due to the country’s gas boom.

In a press conference in Bonn to mark the launch of the study, Hare said the latest data indicated a “higher warming trajectory that previously estimated” and said there was a danger of “policy unwinding as fast as emissions are increasing”.

On Monday the International Energy Agency said 2012 emissions rose by 1.4%, although there were encouraging signs from the USA and China, the world’s largest emitters.

Global deal

Governments have agreed to work towards a climate agreement set to be signed in 2015, which would replace the Kyoto Protocol as the world’s only binding emissions deal.

The USA is pushing for a ‘pledge and review’ system where governments would decide what cuts they could make. The EU and smaller developing nations want specific targets agreed across the board.

The Tracker, a collaboration between energy experts Ecofys, Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research underlines the scale of the challenge facing negotiators.

“The gap between the sum of all countries’ current pledges and what is needed for a path to keep global warming below 2°C is around 8 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent if countries adopt their highest pledges and agree to strict rules – and 13 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent if they adopt their weakest pledges and most lenient rules,” it says.

“There are no new targets and governments appear to be undermining, weakening or even cheating on their current rules,” said Marion Vieweg, Climate Analytics project manager.

“We’re in a kind of shuffling climate dance, with governments giving the appearance of moving around, yet staying in the same place, and some of them appear to have forgotten they’re on the dance floor at all”.

 

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