Sensitive regions of the world would remain at risk of the dangerous and potentially irreversible effects of climate change, even if we meet the target of not increasing the global temperature above 1.5 degree Celsius over the next 100 years, a study has found. The research, led by Open University and University of Sheffield in the UK, reviewed the targets set in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and concluded that regions of the world, such as the Arctic and South-East Asian monsoon region, could be damaged irreversibly as they are particularly sensitive to changes to global temperatures.
The researchers developed a 3D climate-carbon cycle model, and simulated the different climate futures. “The regional uncertainties associated with the Paris Climate Agreement have not been explored before. This is because, until now, researchers have used either very simple models or models that were too complex to investigate the range of possibilities,” said Philip Holden, from The Open University.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that meeting the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement of limiting the increase in global average temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius does not depend on future generations to remove vast amounts of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, governments can achieve the goals through emission reductions, but only if they act now to promote a range of policies to fully support the existing pace of technological change.
“Our models show that it is possible to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement, but only if governments take decisive and urgent action through strengthening climate change policies to encourage rapid divestment from fossil fuels,” said Holden. “By accounting for climate-carbon cycle uncertainties we have been able to show that there is an approximate 50 per cent probability that we can limit peak post-industrial peak global warming to less than 1.6 degrees Celsius,” said Professor Richard Wilkinson, from the University of Sheffield. “This has been made possible by using Gaussian process emulation to find plausible climate trajectories at a fraction of the computational cost,” said Wilkinson.