Temperatures Could Rise Up To 7 Degrees Celsius Above Pre-Industrial Levels, Startling Study Shows

Sep 23, 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions could cause the Earth’s temperature to rise higher than previously estimated and far beyond the targeted limits, according to a study released Tuesday.

In the worst-case scenario of the study from France’s National Center for Scientific Research CNRS, the atomic energy commission CEA and weather office Meteo-France, average global temperatures could rise between 6 and 7 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees to 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

That’s far beyond the targets set in Paris at the COP 21 climate conference in 2015, when nations agreed to keep global temperature increase “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Of the models projected in the newly released study, only one found that global temperatures increases could stay below 2 degrees Celsius. That schema required carbon neutrality by 2060 and subsequent increases in carbon capture technology.

“There’s a jump in quality in the result of the models for numerous indicators,” CEA climate scientist Pascale Braconnot said at a press conference, according to a translation from Bloomberg. “We have more confidence in the new version compared to the previous one.”

The study’s release comes shortly before the United Nations holds a climate summit to address what it has described as “the defining issue of our time.” The U.N.’s 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that the world has 12 years left to ensure that global temperatures don’t rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius. If temperatures rise above that level, the report said, droughts, floods, displacement and conflict will ensue.

Yet even as the U.N. prepares for events to address the growing urgency of climate change, past failures to take aggressive action loom in the foreground.

Critics and and climate organizations said that the Paris Climate Accord, which required countries to pledge Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, didn’t do enough to force binding action on climate change. Those concerns persisted after last year’s COP24 in Katowice, Poland, ended with nations setting the rules for how countries cut greenhouse gas emissions but failing to achieve a transformative breakthrough to address climate change.

America’s role in aggravating climate change also looms large over ongoing discussions of how to pursue more forceful action on the issue. Although it is widely acknowledged that wealthy countries have driven climate change, while poorer ones will bear the brunt of its impact, the U.S. has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord. Despite its status as the 2nd-largest greenhouse gas emitter, the current administration has rolled back a range of Obama-era climate regulations while bolstering ties with oil and gas industry officials.

This story originally appeared in Newsweek. It is republished here as part of Maine Public’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. For more stories in the partnership, visit mainepublic.org/climatenow.