COP18 and Four Degrees: Have We Passed The Point Of No Return?

four-degrees-heatwaves-cop18-unepMore and more studies highlight the truly drastic action we need to take at Doha to avoid four degree warming – but is it too late?

According to a new report, heat waves in the Middle East with temperatures consistently above 40 degrees could seem like ‘a pleasant prospect in a few decades’ if we don’t take drastic action to stop climate change. The report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and German NGO Climate Analytics for the World Bank has been released in the lead up to COP18 and is designed to shock us into action. It states that even if the current carbon pledges were met, “there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100, and a 10 percent chance of 4°C being exceeded as early as the 2070.” An increase of 6°C or more in average summer months was predicted for the Middle East by the report.

Many scientists now predict that a two-degree rise by the end of the century will happen – with catastrophic results such as increased water scarcity, flooding, coastal erosion and the loss of 30 percent of animal and plant species. The only thing really up for debate is whether or when we will hit 4-degree warming. A four-degree temperature rise by the end of the century could create not only a new class of heat waves but may trigger declining global food stocks and sea-level rises affecting hundreds of millions of people. Indeed the UN climate talks in Doha have reportedly considered adding focus to “loss and damage” which indicates a growing realisation that we will not be able to avoid serious warming.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank wrote in the foreword of the report: “A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation, with many of these risks spread unequally. It is likely that the poor will suffer most and the global community could become more fractured, and unequal than today.”

“The world must tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively,” Kim added. “Greater adaptation and mitigation efforts are essential and solutions exist. We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity. But time is very short.”

The recently released UNEP Emissions Gap Report echoed many of these findings. It revealed a growing gap between the emissions reductions needed to avoid irreversible impacts of climate change and the world’s projected emissions reductions. Greenhouse gas emissions levels are now around 14 per cent above where they need to be in 2020. Instead of declining, concentration of warming gases like carbon dioxide (C02) are actually increasing in the atmosphere—up around 20 per cent since 2000. It suggests that the warming could be prevented with strong leadership focused on enacting aggressive policies and investments towards efficiency and sustainability.

“Governments meeting in Doha for COP18 now need to urgently implement existing decisions which will allow for a swifter transition towards a low-carbon and resilient world,” explained Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “This notably means amending the Kyoto Protocol, developing a clear vision of how greenhouse gases can be curbed globally before and after 2020, and completing the institutions required to help developing countries green their economies and adapt, along with defining how the long-term climate finance that developing countries need can be mobilized. ”

For more on the COP18 see: 
COP18 Updates: Students, Women and A President Courting Oil Executives
Egypt’s Position for COP18 Explained
Will The Kyoto Protocol Survive Qatar 2012?
Message to Qatar From Arab Youth – ‘Take the Lead on Climate Change!’
Lifesaving Sahara Forest Project to Start with COP18 in Qatar
Can Qatar Balance Its Interests and Host a Successful Climate Summit?

:: Image of heatwave via

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One thought on “COP18 and Four Degrees: Have We Passed The Point Of No Return?”

  1. JTR says:

    All the sciences are involved in whatever happens to the planet, so why aren’t they all comparing notes together and calculating the impending ecocide as humans keep on producing more pollution and the population keeps on growing?

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