The British Meteorological Office’s Hadley Centre, the country’s largest (and generally conservative) environmental research organization, has issued its strongest warning to date about the world response to climate change.
Research released from the Hadley Centre says that global emissions must be cut 3% per year starting in 2010 if the world has any hope of avoiding an increase in global temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the widely recognized point beyond which the worst impacts of climate change begin, including rising seas, increasingly volatile weather patters, drought, and wide-scale extinction (all of which have already begun).
The report comes two months before leaders from over 80 countries meet this December at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) in Poland to discuss a new climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012.
In light of reports like that from the Hadley Centre, and the lack of substantive progress in previous meetings of world leaders to deal with global warming, skepticism runs high from environmentalists that much will be accomplished at the next summit in December.
To help raise awareness of the summit and of the urgent nature of climate change, a march has been organized by the Global Climate Campaign in over 100 world cities to coincide with the start of the UN conference.
The organizer of the “D6” march, Dr. Keith Baker, expresses the frustration and concern of the larger environmental community:
We’ve seen a succession of talks that haven’t produced much. The energy consumption of the Bali talks was equivalent to the total annual energy consumption of Chad so we have to start putting these things in perspective. Governments can always be more effective and I think we need to work together on this, because we will only make progress when all of the political parties stand up and say we are all going to do this.”
The Hadley research set forth several possible scenarios of how climate change might play out in the next century, depending on humanity’s response. The most optimistic scenario, that of a global cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 3% starting in 2010, has average global temperatures rising 1.7 degrees Celsius by 2050, and 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Thus far, there is little evidence that world response will meet this “optimistic” scenario as annual greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise, let alone a global cut of 3% starting in hardly more than one year. Researchers have thus concluded that the more realistic scenario is a rise of up to 7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the consequences of which will cause irreversible damage and a significantly altered environment.
Clearly, the call is for swift, bold, and collective action from world leaders to forge a means of quickly and significantly reducing carbon emissions globally.
In other words, something completely different from what he have seen thus far.