Four years to save the Earth: 2020 is the deadline to avert climate catastrophe, experts claim
- ‘When it comes to climate, timing is everything’ Nature commentary said
- Letter was signed by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, three top climate scientists, and two sustainability experts from the business sector
A world that heats up beyond that threshold will face a crescendo of devastating impacts ranging from deadly heatwaves to mass migration caused by rising seas, the experts warned in a commentary published in the science journal Nature.
With 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming so far, ice sheets that could lift oceans by a dozen metres are melting more quickly, coral reefs are dying from heat stress, and ever more damaging storm surges are hammering coastal communities.
The transition to cleaner energy sources is well underway and is backed by broad consensus on the need to beat back the threat of climate change—with the notable exception of the United States under President Donald Trump.
‘There is a long way to go to decarbonise the world economy,’ according to a new commentary signed by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, three top climate scientists, and two sustainability experts from the business sector.
After rising for decades, global emissions of carbon dioxide driven by the burning of fossil fuels have levelled off during the last two years at about 41 billion tonnes per year.
But even at this rate the planet’s ‘carbon budget’—the amount of CO2 that can be released into the atmosphere without crossing the 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) red line—would be used up within a couple of decades, perhaps sooner.