Copenhagen Climate Pledges May Lead to Global Temperature Jump, Study Says


The CO2 reduction pledges made by 76 nations following last December’s Copenhagen climate conference will likely lead to a global temperature rise of at least 3 degrees Centigrade (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2100, according to an analysis by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

In an article in Nature, the researchers described the current reduction commitments as “paltry” and said the goal of holding temperature increases to 2 degrees C is in “dire peril.”

Researcher Malte Meinshausen told the BBC, “There’s a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2 C, and the emissions reductions. The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious.”

The pledges, which account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mean that total emissions will reach 48 to 53.6 billion tons by 2020, from roughly 35 billion tons today.

But if the world community has any hope of holding temperature increases to 2 degrees C, the Potsdam researchers said 2020 emissions must be between 40 to 44 billion tons.

Climate scientists say that temperature increases of 3 degrees C or more will likely lead to a destabilization of the global climate system, increased melting of polar ice sheets, and significant rises in sea level.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

photo: Lars Plougmann

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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