Too late: Global warming target 'unachievable'

Scientists say we may have missed our chance to limit climate change, as Trump disbands his climate advisory committee

Smoke rises from stacks of a thermal power station in Bulgaria
(Image credit: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The world may have already missed its chance to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming, according to new research.

Using computer models to assess what needs to be done to restrict global warming to less than 2C, scientists found the planet is likely to overshoot the limits adopted by the Paris climate agreement unless unilateral efforts are undertaken to bring temperature rises under control with geo-engineering projects intended to change the climate for the better.

One suggestion is the creation of giant biological machines to grow vegetation which absorbs carbon, then burning the resulting biomass in power stations that capture the emissions.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Writing in the journal Climate Change, researchers said this would require a "complete shift" to an energy system based on renewables, nuclear, hydrogen, and bio-energy with carbon capture and storage.

Scientists previously thought limiting global warming to 2C would avoid the most dangerous effects, "but there is increasing evidence that allowing it to go much above 1.5C could lock in considerable sea level rise for the next few centuries", says The Independent.

So far the planet has warmed by just under 1C in little over a century.

The latest warnings about the effects of global warming come as the Trump administration announced it is disbanding the federal advisory panel on climate change.

The 15-member committee of scientists, academics and local officials is part of the National Climate Association, which aims to help officials and policy makers integrate the US government's climate change analysis into their long-term planning.

Its four-year mandate expired on Monday and the Washington Post says it will not be renewed by the administration.

While many state and local officials have pressed the federal government for more concrete guidance on how to factor climate change into future infrastructure, "President Trump has moved in the opposite direction", says the paper. He recently signed an executive order overturning a federal requirement that projects built in coastal floodplains and receiving federal aid should take projected sea-level rises into account.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.