The failure to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels and avert the worst effects of the climate disaster if current trends continue has nothing to do with a lack of technological advancement or looming climatological tipping points.
Instead, the Cluster of Excellence Climate, Climatic Change, and Society (CLICCS) at the University of Hamburg came to the conclusion that society is changing too slowly to achieve the Paris Agreement’s attainable goal.
In reality, some actions have already been taken to protect the environment. However, limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees still isn’t realistic, according to CLICCS Speaker Prof. Anita Engels, if you examine the evolution of social processes in greater depth.
The report’s objective was to determine if achieving the Paris Agreement’s targets of keeping global warming to far below two degrees Celsius—or, ideally, 1.5 degrees—beyond pre-industrial levels was realistically feasible in light of social and environmental issues.
According to the University of Hamburg and The Hill, the final product was the result of the work of more than 60 natural and social experts who examined data from more than 140 countries.
The authors of the study examined 10 societal forces that might result in 2050’s deep decarbonization, which is required to meet the 1.5 objectives.
These included corporate responses, media, consumption patterns, transnational initiatives, climate-related policies, climate litigation, climate protests and social movements, knowledge production, divestment from fossil fuels, and UN climate governance.
While the first seven were making progress, none of them were moving quickly enough to accomplish deep decarbonization, they discovered. While corporate responses and consumption patterns were still actively impeding climate action, the media was equivocal. Engels noted, however, that governments’ and enterprises’ actions to regulate them frequently have an impact on consumers (or not.)
“If the manner the items are made is regulated in a way that (consumers) are not compelled to buy climate detrimental products, it would be so much easier,” she told AFP.
The authors of the study also came to the conclusion that while the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were yet unknown, economic recovery attempts following the coronavirus lockdowns had resulted in a greater dependence on fossil fuels.
The researchers also examined the physical factors influencing climate change that can reach breaking points and result in more warming. They discovered that regional climate change and variability, sea ice loss, and polar ice sheet melting had no bearing on global temperatures and were therefore irrelevant to the Paris Agreement’s objectives.
The Paris Agreement goals may be marginally less likely to be achieved as a result of the permafrost thawing, Amazon rainforest destruction, and instability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, but these effects were less immediate than those of social issues.
According to CLICCS Co-Speaker Prof. Jochem Marotzke of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, “The fact is that these feared tipping points could radically affect the conditions for life on Earth, but they’re essentially irrelevant for attaining the Paris Agreement temperature goals.”
The prospects of keeping global warming below two degrees were more likely, according to the study’s authors.
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They came to the conclusion that while it is not realistic to achieve the 1.5 C Paris Agreement temperature goal, it is realistic to restrict global temperature rise to well below 2 C if ambition, implementation, and knowledge gaps are closed.
The Hamburg study is the second one to make this week that the 1.5 objectives might not be achievable. Researchers at Stanford University came to the conclusion in another report that it would take 10 to 15 years for temperatures to rise by more than 1.5 degrees.
However, two climatologists who were not involved with either publication claimed that 1.5 was still feasible. According to Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, if emissions are cut in half by 2030, temperatures can be kept below 1.5 degrees warmer with only a slight overshoot. Meanwhile, University of Pennsylvania’s Michael Mann cautioned that abandoning the 1.5-degree goal could result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Ultimately, it is simple to overestimate the importance of a precise threshold like 1.5C warming. According to him, the challenge is to reduce warming as much as feasible.
Finally, the Hamburg study’s assessment of plausibility is predicated on the continuation of existing social tendencies.
The authors concluded that human agency still has a significant capacity to influence how climatic futures will develop, even though the findings of our driver analyses indicate that societal transformation cannot be accomplished easily.
Read More: The “Elite Polluters” Are Responsible for A Disproportionately Large Amount of Pollution.
If Russia stops its invasion of Ukraine and ties between the United States and China strengthen, it may still be possible to keep temperature increases to 1.5 degrees and open the door for more fruitful international negotiations.
Climate activism and public pressure are required at the same time to persuade governments and polluting corporations to significantly reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.