28 Sep 2023, 14:17
Benjamin Wehrmann

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C has “factually failed” – German scientists

Clean Energy Wire

The Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius has “factually failed,” said scientists at the German Extreme Weather Congress in Hamburg. “We have to accept the fact that the 1.5 degree target will be breached,” said Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology. Massive changes to the global climate are now unavoidable, and humanity will have to put in a significant amount of effort and investment to try and keep warming to below two degrees Celsius, participants at the congress found. At current rates, the world is heading for an average global temperature increase of three degrees Celsius. The extreme weather events throughout 2023 could mark “a turning point” in the transformation towards a warmer global average temperature, which will increase the prevalence of large fires, heat waves and floods, the congress members said in a statement. “Never before have global air and ocean temperatures been as high as this year.”

Germany was largely spared from the extreme weather events that hit much of southern Europe and northern Africa in recent months. However, temperatures of five to six degrees above average in the Mediterranean Sea could have meant equally catastrophic rains or prolonged droughts for the country, the statement said. It’s only a meteorological chance that these events happened elsewhere. On a long-term scale, the number of days above 30 degrees Celsius in Germany has tripled since the 1950s, from an average three to nine days per year, said Germany’s Meteorological Service (DMG) in a report presented at the congress. Mean temperatures in the country have risen 1.7 degrees since records began in 1881 and the rate of warming has constantly accelerated in the past decades, leading to drier soils and more forest fires, the report found.

“We must end the illusion that we have made a meaningful contribution towards climate action in the past 30 years,” said Frank Böttcher, head of the DMG. “Many people have done a lot, but we are far away from reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” Böttcher said policymakers and society as a whole had to come to an earnest reassessment of the situation. He added that they must adapt their consumption behaviour and regulate in a “socially acceptable” manner, to bring resource use in line with environmental limitations and prepare for the impacts of climate change that can no longer be avoided.

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