News Digest Item
08 Aug 2018

Heatwaves and scientists’ warnings show that climate must top political agenda - opinion

Deutschlandfunk / Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

The dangers of our planet sliding into a “hothouse Earth” state are speculative but real, argues Georg Ehring in a commentary carried by the public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, referencing a scientific paper published by a team of scientists, including from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Ehring says it is common knowledge that national objectives to cut emissions are insufficient to reach the Paris climate targets “especially if they are being ignored as brazenly as currently in Germany.” He continues: “The scientists’ scenario is a drastic reminder that the topic must be on top of the political agenda […] the next heatwave will surely come, only this time much more powerful than today.”
Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than assumed, according to the paper published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering “hothouse Earth” conditions with temperatures stabilising at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures, write the authors, among them PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.  “What we do not know yet is whether the climate system can be safely 'parked' near 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as the Paris Agreement envisages. Or if it will, once pushed so far, slip down the slope towards a hothouse planet,” Schellnhuber said in a press release.

Read the commentary in German here.

Find the PIK’s press release here.

Find the link to the original article in PNAS here.

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