‘Urgent action required’: Major study warns of multiple climate tipping points beyond 1.5C
There may no longer be a “safe” state for climate based on global warming trajectories, according to new research that warns that multiple world-altering tipping points will be breached if global temperatures exceed 1.5C.
The research, which was published in Science last week, reviewed hundreds of studies across academia to provide a global picture of how the climate crisis will alter key environmental tipping points.
On a 1.5C trajectory, around 10 tipping points could be breached which include huge sea level rises because of the Greenland ice caps collapsing, current disruptions in the north Atlantic and the melting of permafrost which currently stores away carbon bombs.
The partial and total collapse of Amoc, Amazon dieback, permafrost collapse and winter sea ice loss in the Arctic are also outlined in the study. Crucially, the Amazonian tipping point doesn’t include deforestation impacts, which would make global changes in that reason even more severe.
The Amazon rainforest is already facing a “tipping point crisis” as deforestation, degradation and the lack of protection for indigenous people look set to threaten one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, according to a new report warning that action must start now to protect it.
The remaining tipping points would likely occur at a global heating level of at least 2C. In comparison, the world is currently on course for around 2.6C based on existing net-zero pledges from nations.
These tipping points include killing off corals, monsoon season changes and the loss of ocean oxygen.
“Our assessment provides strong scientific evidence for urgent action to mitigate climate change,” the report states.” We show that even the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to well below 2C and preferably 1.5C is not safe as 1.5C and above risks crossing multiple tipping points. Crossing these tipping points (CTPs) can generate positive feedbacks that increase the likelihood of crossing other CTPs.
“Currently the world is heading toward ~2 to 3C of global warming; at best, if all net-zero pledges and nationally determined contributions are implemented it could reach just below 2C. This would lower tipping point risks somewhat but would still be dangerous as it could trigger multiple climate tipping points.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set to publish its latest report next month. The body’s most recent report highlights the “atlas of human suffering” that the climate crisis has caused.
The Sixth Assessment Report from the IPCC’s Working Group 2 warns that historic failures to cut emissions and slow progress on adaptation efforts have left more than 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – “highly vulnerable” to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Leaders from across the global green economy are urging policymakers and business decision-makers to heed the findings of a major new report from hundreds of climate scientists, accelerating efforts on adaptation, decarbonisation, backed by adequate levels of finance. Read the industry reaction here.
The report emphasises that the longer that action on the climate crisis is delayed, the greater the financial costs will be, as well as the toll it will take on humanity.
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