- Climate scientists acknowledge the achievement of the newfound pact of world leaders from COP21
- However, they pointed out that the specific, crucial details to achieving the targets are missing
- Scientists warned that the reality is the world does not have much time to combat the climate problems
Climate scientists welcomed the pact that world leaders made to fight global warming but also raised concerns about the plan.
The new pact was embraced by 195 countries. The pact aimed to cap the warming level to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Farenheit). This is above pre-industrial levels. They have also agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Director of the Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy, Steffen Kallbekken said the agreement is really an achievement for the world.
“This is an historic agreement,” he said.
However, he said the pact is not clear on some details and these details are crucial into determining if the plans will be successful.
“But this ambitious temperature goal is not matched by an equally ambitious mitigation goal,” he said, using the scientific term for the drawing-down of heat-trapping gases.
Kallbekken explained that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to limit the warming to two degrees, emissions would have to drop to 40-70 per cent by mid-century. The IPCC is the United Nation’s (UN) climate science body.
He further added that to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, mid-century cuts on emissions would have to be way deeper, such as 70 to 95 per cent.
Kalbekken acknowledged that these are tough numbers but without these numbers, the climate pact “does not send a clear signal about the level and timing of emissions cuts,” Kallbekken warned.
Many scientists pointed out that the pact created an imbalance when the target temperature was increased and the yardsticks by which the progress towards the target is measured, were removed.
“How are we going to reach our objective unless we set out in the right direction?” Professor Bill Collins from the University of Reading, Southern England, asked.
“Until governments accept this, we should restrain our optimism,” he said.
Imperial College London professor Keveh Madani said that international summits are good at setting aspirations or goals but they are not so good at laying out a detailed pathway to fulfilling them.
“What matters more is how to get to the target,” he noted.
As an example, emerging nations such as India, were reluctant to include quantifiable goals because this could constrain their use of fossil fuels that grow their economy.
But, as Miles Allen from Oxford University pointed out, scientific reality is unyielding.
He said stabilizing greenhouse gases “in the second half of this century will require net carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced, in effect, to zero.
“It seems governments understand this, even if they couldn’t quite bring themselves to say so,” he added.
“Above all, we can’t wait until 2020 – acting before then is essential, we have to be very pro-active,” Jean Jouzel, a leading French climate scientist and a former vice chair of the IPCC, told AFP.