“Under the Business-as-Usual Scenario, emissions of greenhouse gases will result in a global temperature increase of 0.3° per decade — greater than ever seen in the past 10,000 years. This will likely result in a global-mean temperature of about 1ºC above the present value by 2025 and 3° at the end of the century. (…) Stabilizing [global temperatures] would require immediate reductions in emissions of over 60% compared with current levels.”
If you think this is the latest warning report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), about the consequences of acting too late on anthropogenic greenhouse gases you would be mistaken. It was taken from the first IPCC report, back in 1992 — almost 30 years ago.
It seems like nothing has changed since the working group drafted those lines of warning: apparently we are still following the 1°C course. It is uncanny how predictions made then have proven to be entirely accurate 28 years later. Except, of course, the predictions for the end of the century: now we are looking at a 5° to 8°C increase. Such an increase would be catastrophic for our way of life.
In Paris, the international community has vowed to limit global temperature increases to the 1.5° C threshold, in other words, to slash emissions by 35 gigatons (GT) annually this decade. This would be six times larger than the previous record reduction of 0,4 GT in 2009 — caused by the global financial crisis — and twice as large as the combined total of all previous reductions since the end of World War II. Of course, once the crises were over the rebound in emissions was always larger than the decline.
While it is theoretically possible to achieve such fundamental changes in our economic systems, we have a significant challenge in our hands: transforming the world economy in 10 years.