Newsnight: Expert discusses keeping global warming below 1.5C
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Economics editor Ben Chu has broken down the impacts of global warming on humans, warning of “escalating damage” in terms of heatwaves and sea levels rising. The horrifying graphic came as world leaders came together at COP26 to devise a plan on how to best tackle the climate emergency. Earlier discussions have so far resulted in a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 Boris Johnson is expected to announced on Tuesday.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Ben Chu said: “Is there really that much difference between 1.5 and 2.7 degrees of warming?
“Take heatwaves. According to a survey of peer-reviewed climate studies by Carbon Brief, with 1.5 degrees of heating, you get 14 percent of the global population facing at least one severe heatwave every five years.
“With two degrees that rises to 37 percent, with three degrees sciences expecting much more severe and widespread.”
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He went on: “Take sea levels. Of one and a half degrees, we are predicted to get a 48-centimetre rise.
“With two degrees, you get a 56-centimetre rise. With three degrees, you get the potential breakup of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and possibly more than a metre and a half of sea level rises.
“It’s a similar story of escalating damage in terms of drought, biodiversity loss, the economy, we could go on and on.
“The key point to take away from all this is that in terms of climate impacts, the scientific consensus is that we should not expect a small step up in intensity with every degree we go up with thermometer.”
Friederike Otto from the Environmental Change Institute then said: “The more extreme the events, the larger the changes are with increasing temperatures.
“And particularly the damages that these extreme events cause are changing exponentially in many cases rather than linearly with the warming.”
Mr Chu continued: “Think then the kind of explosive growth in harm we saw in the pandemic, think two have a series of potentially disastrous tipping points, which cause a drastic and self-reinforcing acceleration of warming.
“That’s why really does make a world of difference whether we have a one and a half degree warmer planet or a 2.7 degree hotter earth.”
The latest report from the IPCC, approved by 195 governments, concluded that fossil-fuel emissions are driving planetary changes.
World leaders and delegates from around the world are now discussing positive climate action at Cop26 in Glasgow.
The Queen delivered a video message to the summit, urging leaders to create a “safer, stabler, future”.
She also hoped that they “rise above the politics of the moment”.
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