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Explained | Why are discussions on 1.5°C on the brink at COP27?

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What are the tipping points besides the potential collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet and how are they likely to affect things like monsoons and heatwaves? How are world leaders expected to react to COP27? Why do some communities file climate complaints against rich countries?

What are the tipping points besides the potential collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet and how are they likely to affect things like monsoons and heatwaves? How are world leaders expected to react to COP27? Why do some communities file climate complaints against rich countries?

The story so far: Following the ratification of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, the focus is on voluntary national actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the increase in average global temperature well below 2°C and as close to 1.5°C as possible by the end of the century. All countries that have signed the pact under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, during COP27, to review progress, raise ambition in reducing emissions and developing financing plans to help vulnerable people. countries are adapting to climate change. But the scientific community is losing hope that rising temperatures can be stopped in time, before uncontrollable tipping points are reached, leading to catastrophic climate change that will harm human health, biodiversity and agriculture. This caused worldwide protest movements. Young people in particular are reluctant to face their uncertain future.

Why does the 1.5°C target seem unattainable?

UN scientific reports that contribute to the understanding of climate change published ahead of the COP27 meeting in Egypt highlight the extremely narrow window available to close the emissions gap and prevent the average temperature increase beyond 1.5°C.

UNEP’s 2022 Emissions Gap Report indicates that while all conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – voluntary pledges submitted under the Paris Pact – followed by net-zero emissions reduction targets are implemented, global warming is expected to reach 1.8°C with a probability of 66%. The report also points out that global annual emissions in 2021, at 52.8 gigatonnes (GtCO2e), represent a slight increase from 2019, the pre-COVID year, and that the outlook for 2030 is not bright. Collectively, the members of the G20 account for 75% of emissions, even if it is the richest countries that are responsible for the emissions accumulated since the industrial revolution.

During the conference on Egypt, the scientist Johan Rockstrom said the major tipping points are the potential collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the thawing of boreal permafrost and the death of tropical coral reefs, all of which are expected to occur produce at 1.5°C. These and other estimates of temperature impacts were reported in a recent journal article Science by Armstrong McKay and others. Tipping points represent moments that turn into irreversible changes, with a domino effect on other elements such as monsoons and heat waves. To put things into perspective, Professor Rockstrom said the current temperature rise is between 1.2C and 1.3C above the pre-industrial average, the highest in about 12,000 years since the last ice age. With current soft approaches to limiting atmospheric CO2, it will be nearly impossible to meet the 1.5°C target.

What do the scientific reports say about the fallout?

COP27 is described as the implementation conference, as the UN climate talks are often criticized as a ‘talk more, do little’ exercise. Yet official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that inform the UN system contain reminders for participating leaders, whose national pledges fall far short of needed reductions. The latest Sixth Assessment Report (SAR) of the IPCC, with high confidence in its short-term conclusions (until 2040), indicates that biodiversity loss, loss of Arctic ice, threat to settlements and coastal infrastructure will all be experienced, while conflict, migration of affected people and urban issues of energy and water access may also arise. Beyond 2040 and until the end of the century, the IPCC report paints a bleak picture. At 2°C, up to 20% less snowmelt water for irrigation, less water for agriculture and human settlements due to loss of glacial mass, and doubling of flood damage could occur, while up to 18% of species on earth could disappear.

The projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as cyclones, particularly in the medium to long term until 2100, is of particular concern in tropical regions. The SAR says that “displacement will increase with intensification of heavy rainfall and associated flooding, tropical cyclones, drought and, increasingly, sea level rise.”

What is at stake in the negotiations at COP27?

The countries most affected by the effects of climate change have sought to obtain payments for loss and damage from the wealthiest industrialized nations, which have contributed most of the CO2 to the atmosphere. Strengthening this compensation mechanism is a major focus in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The background to the emissions is explained as follows: The CO2 level at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii was 416.22 parts per million (ppm) on November 11. The level was 315 ppm in 1958 and the pre-industrial revolution level was 280 ppm. To display. Emerging economies and smaller climate-affected countries say they are not responsible for this stockpile of CO2, and many want the creation of a massive fund for loss and damage, separate from the agreed $100 billion a year under the Paris Agreement. At the last conference in Glasgow, this program was abandoned. Some communities in countries ranging from Peru to Pakistan and even India have started filing climate complaints, asking for restrictions or damages.

Read also | Loss and damage: fight against human damage, huge climate costs

More fundamentally, campaigners are seeking a radical move away from fossil fuels to peak emissions by 2025. A special report titled “10 New Perspectives on Climate Science” released at COP27 by Professor Rockstrom highlights the persistence of high emissions from fossil fuels because “success is still measured primarily by GDP and wealth, rather than improving resource use efficiency and promoting human well-being in the limits of the biosphere, so world leaders and the financial system investing in polluting companies around the world are under pressure to divest from fossil fuels and support greener, renewable options at COP27.