Stop patting yourself on the back for the Paris Agreement, researchers say

While many officials are celebrating the climate agreement reached in Paris, the world is still massively heating up. If we don’t do more, and fast, global temperatures will reach critical level 35 years from now, researchers warn.

French Foreign Minister, UN Secretary-General Ban, and French President Hollande celebrate in Paris. Photo by U.S. Department of State.

Six leading climate scientists teamed up with the Universal Ecological Fund in Argentina to release a brief report Thursday, stating that if things continue as they have until now, the planet will heat up by another degree Celsiusby 2050.

We’re almost screwed

“The pledges are not going to get even close,” said report lead author Sir Robert Watson, a University of East Anglia professor and former World Bank chief scientist who used to be chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “If you governments of the world are really serious, you’re going to have to do way, way more.”

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence towards the damage that global warming is causing, climate change has not been a priority for most countries. In fact, only a handful of countries have truly started tackling climate change.

The report highlights a few major issues with how global warming is treated. First of all, we’re treating it as if it were something that’s bound to happen in the future – even though it’s happening now, and we’re feeling the effects in many parts of the world. Mass extinctions, fish stocks collapsing, drought, extreme weather and many more – these are all happening now. Even if we were to somehow magically stop all our emissions today, Earth would still warm up for centuries to come. Yet somehow, also thanks to the way the media has portrayed global warming, most people still think of it as something way further down the line. It’s not.

California is experiencing unprecedented drought, largely due to global warming. Photo by Peripitus.

The article also tackles another problem: somehow, we think that we can grow our economy without any regard for the environment.

It’s been shown time and time again that economic and social develop cannot be done without environmental protection. A sustainable future of mankind must be built on three pillars: economic, social, and environmental. Yet somehow, many people still feel that we have to choose between either our economy or the environment – and this is fundamentally wrong, they argue.

As for the climate agreement, it’s a necessary start but it’s definitely not the be all end all of climate change. It’s a necessary start but if we think it’s enough to get the ball rolling, we’re probably wrong.

“It struck me that this was naive,” Watson said. “This is a real major challenge to stay even close to 2 degrees Celsius.”

A sobering summary

The work hasn’t been published in any scientific journal, because it basically doesn’t say anything new. It’s just a report, a summary of what we already knew – something that scientists already know and agree with. If anything it’s more of a message to politicians.

“It is a good summary of what is common knowledge in the climate expert community but not widely appreciated by members of the public and even policy makers,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute in Germany. “So indeed it is a useful reminder notice to the world about what is at stake.”

In less than two months, the follow-up meeting for Paris will take place in Marrakech, Morocco. I truly hope we’ll start seeing some more concrete action to follow-up the Paris deal there. It’s time policy-makers stopped patting themselves on the back and start taking concrete action.

2 thoughts on “Stop patting yourself on the back for the Paris Agreement, researchers say

  1. Brian

    Some of the govs are going to resist, but they will fail. Solar and wind are now available cheaper than all other sources, before gov breaks. At the current doubling of solar and wind every 2 years, in 15 years fossils will redundant. EV's and waste to fuels will be needed too, but it's happening. Once we stop burning fossils the CO2 will drop fast, assuming we don't trigger some runaway greenhouse system first.

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