In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement, which legislated that all nations involved pledged to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), preferably 1.5C (2.7F) compared to pre-industrial levels by 2100. However, a new report has warned that Earth could exceed the 1.5C levels within the next four years.
The report from the UN, the World Meteorological Organization and other global science groups has said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic which brought much of the world to a standstill, emissions continue to rise.
According to the study, methane, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide – the three major greenhouse gasses – continued to rise in 2020.
The study, which also included the most up to date figures from 2019, found that global fossil CO2 emissions reached a new record high of 36.7 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2019 – 62 percent higher than in 1990.
Now, researchers involved in the study believe there is a 20 percent chance Earth will hit the 1.5C level by 2024.
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A warming planet leads to a plethora of problems – not just the fact it will become obviously hotter.
Global warming leads to an increase in strength in storms and socio-economic problems – including forcing millions to leave their coastal homes due to rising sea levels.
The heating planet will also affect Earth’s delicate ecosystems which will lead to an increase in the rate of extinction for many species.
The study also said that the Arctic is likely to warm at at more than twice the overall global rate.
Professor Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said: “2020 has been a remarkable year in many ways. Not least of course because of the global pandemic, impacting lives and livelihoods across the planet like never before.
“This year has also been remarkable in terms or our climate, continuing the trend we have seen in recent decades.
“Greenhouse gas concentrations – which are already at their highest levels in 3 million years – have continue to rise, reaching new record highs this year.
“Meanwhile, large swathes of Siberia have seen a prolonged and remarkable heatwave during the first half of 2020, which would have been almost impossible without anthropogenic climate change.
“And now 2016–2020 is set to be the warmest five year period on record.
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“This report shows that whilst many aspects of our lives have been disrupted in 2020, climate change has continued unabated.”
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, added: “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations and economies around the world.
“Furthermore, due to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the past century, the planet is already locked into future significant heating.
“This report stresses that short-term lockdowns are no substitute for the sustained climate action that is needed to enable us to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”
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