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Report: Current Climate Policies Will Warm the World by 3.3˚C

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Report: Current Climate Policies Will Warm the World by 3.3˚C
Even an increase of 2°C would cause significant sea level rise. pxhere

This past October, a widely disseminated United Nations report warned that far-reaching and significant climate impacts will already occur at 1.5˚C of warming by 2100.

But in a study released Tuesday, researchers determined that the current climate polices of governments around the world will push Earth towards 3.3˚C of warming. That's more than two times the aspirational 1.5˚C target adopted by nearly 200 nations under the 2015 Paris agreement.


The report is an annual update of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by three European research organizations. The CAT is based on policy movements made by governments since the Paris accord.

The report found that even if all governments achieved their Paris agreement commitments, the world will still likely warm 3.0°C.

Even an increase of 2°C—the upper warming limit adopted in Paris—would cause approximately 4 inches of sea level rise, increase the chance of ice-free Arctic summers from once-per-decade to once-per-century, devastate tropical coral reefs and push hundreds of millions of people from climate risk and poverty by 2050, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.

Alarmingly, the majority of countries that were tracked in the CAT report have not yet fully aligned their policies to actually achieve their Paris commitments.

However, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the European Union, India and Morocco have taken "significant steps in the right direction," the report says.

Meanwhile, the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates were singled out for making insufficient progress or even moving in the wrong direction in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The report notes that China's coal consumption has risen for a second year in a row, and Brazil "appears to have turned away from its forest protection policies even before its recent change of government."

Climate Action Tracker

The authors of the CAT report note that limiting warming to 1.5˚C is "feasible and has substantial economic and sustainable development benefits."

They praised countries such as Norway and Costa Rica for their efforts to deploy renewable energy and plans to decarbonize their transportation sectors. They highlighted Chile's 2050 energy strategy which aims at decarbonizing the energy system, India's National Electricity Plan and South Africa's energy resource strategy that aims to shift away from coal toward renewables and gas.

As for the U.S., despite the Trump administration's efforts to roll back climate policies, the country's emissions are "slowing as coal continues to exit the power market, driven by the declining costs of renewables and storage," the report says

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in October that limiting warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels was possible but would require social and technological change on a scale for which "there is no documented historic precedent," The Washington Post reported.

"We have yet to see this translate into action in terms of what governments are prepared to put on the table," Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, one of the three CAT research groups, told Reuters.

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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