Study reveals that climate warming forecasts may be too rosy

Study reveals that climate warming forecasts may be too rosy

Here’s some sobering news for you: as per Manila Bulletin, researchers revealed that the UN projections of how much current climate policies and national pledges to cut carbon pollution will slow global warming are more uncertain than widely assumed.

To put things into perspective, the UN said existing policies would see Earth’s average surface temperature rise a “catastrophic” 2.7 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100. Renewed pledges from large emitters such as India would have a negligible effect on warming this century, the UN said during COP26. Thus far, the planet is still worlds away from the Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5C of warming.

However, a new study suggests that these findings may be misleading. “The false precision to climate outcomes given during COP26 may lead countries to believe they are making good progress, when the opposite may be true,” said first author Ida Sognnaes, a senior scientist at the CICERO climate research center in Olso.

Their issue here is the standard method that was used to connect the dots between a set of climate policies and the end-of-century temperature increases they might lead to.

Most climate projections are based on models that start with the desired temperature outcome —- a cap on global warming of 1.5C or 2C, for example -— and then work backward to see what policy levers need to be pulled in order to get there.

“Our study is a ‘forecast’,” said CICERO’s director of research Glen Peters. “We model out where existing policies take us and then see where we end up.” Their findings showed that figures presented during COP26 lacked certainty. 

“If you take the low end of that range, it may sound like we are really close to meeting the Paris goals,” Peters explained. “But it is equally likely that the outcome could be up around 3C, in which case much stronger policies would be needed.”

With that said, it looks like countries around the world aren’t doing enough to combat the devastating effects of climate change.

Art Daniella Sison


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