Average world temperatures are on track to far exceed the central goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting global warming, a study showed on Tuesday.
But the overshoot by the end of this century could be slightly less severe than previously expected thanks to significant efforts by some countries to combat climate change, the report by Carbon Action Tracker (CAT) – a consortium of three independent European research groups – said.
The Paris Agreement aims to restrict warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
The CAT report said there had been some progress on the ground since 2015, and current policies meant the world was heading for warming of 3.3C.
That compared with the 3.4C it predicted a year ago, and it said that if governments were to implement planned or extra policies they had in the pipeline, warming by 2100 could be limited to 3C.
Even a rise of 3C could cause loss of tropical coral reefs, Alpine glaciers, Arctic summer sea ice and perhaps an irreversible melt of Greenland’s ice that would drive up world sea levels, a United Nations science panel has said.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in October that keeping the rise to 1.5C was possible but would require rapid and unprecedented changes in human behaviour.
“We have yet to see this translate into action in terms of what governments are prepared to put on the table,” said Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, one of the three CAT research groups.
Since the Paris accord was agreed, countries including Argentina, Canada, Chile and India plus the European Union were moving in the right direction towards cutting emissions.
“If extended and scaled, these combined efforts could begin to bend the global emissions curve,” the report said.
But other countries such as the United States, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates had made either no progress or taken backward steps.