World is not going to avoid 1.5 Celsius global warming 'tipping point', researchers warn

Air pollution from smoke coming out of factory chimneys.
Current efforts to limit warming are not sufficient, the researchers have warned. (Getty)

The battle to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius by 2050 is doomed, according to researchers who have reviewed data around global warming.

To achieve the goal of limiting temperature rise by this amount, global carbon emissions must reach net zero – where emissions are balanced by carbon absorbed by plants and carbon-capture technology – by 2050.

To meet the goal, emissions will have to fall 43% by 2030, two scientists said in a paper published in Science – but emissions are still rising.

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A rise of 1.5 Celsius is considered important, because above that level and there will be more heatwaves, extreme weather events, droughts and greater economic losses.

Previous research had suggested that these emissions had already led to an increase of 1.25 Celsius.

The two researchers, H Damon Matthews and Seth Wynes, looked at research describing the current state of the global climate system.

They also studied past trends that have led to the warming increases already observed, and at efforts made by other scientists to use such data to predict warming in the future, based on different levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers also analysed efforts around the globe aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and used them to make estimates regarding their impact on slowing global warming.

In the end, the pair found that given current circumstances, there is almost zero chance that the 1.5 Celsius goal will be met.

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They suggest the primary barriers to success are the lack of a proper global technological system and the political will to effect change – and conclude that the world is simply not seriously committed to reaching the goal.

The researchers write: "Though the growth rate of global carbon dioxide emissions has slowed and many countries have strengthened their emissions targets, current mid-century net zero goals are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial temperatures.

"The primary barriers to the achievement of a 1.5 Celsius-compatible pathway are not geophysical but rather reflect inertia in our political and technological systems. Both political and corporate leadership are needed to overcome this inertia, supported by increased societal recognition of the need for system-level and individual lifestyle changes."

If countries continue on their current path, the world will see sea levels rising by more than two feet by 2100, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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The impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, with the UN attributing extreme weather events to human-induced climate change.

Nasa has said: "More than one-fifth of all humans live in regions that have already seen warming greater than 1.5 Celsius in at least one season.

"Climate-related risks were found to be generally higher at lower latitudes and for disadvantaged people and communities."

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