We are at the climate limit, but the game is on

Early Wednesday morning, the Alliance of Small Island States, representing 39 countries, returned to the General Hall of COP28. They were coordinating their position in advance of the document presented by the President of the Conference of the Parties. But when they entered, they found that the document had already been approved, without being subjected to point-by-point discussion, as was usual.

President of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) Sultan Al Jaber He has just achieved what has never been done before: Agree with explicit reference to “moving away from fossil fuels.”

He achieved this by avoiding pressure on Saudi Arabia, the country that became the biggest obstacle to the deal. The New York Times reported that the Saudis had arrived Prevent discussions by adding “poison words” to drafts He refused to sit with supporters of phasing out fossil fuels.

An unthinkable agreement, but it is insufficient

The COP28 agreement highlights that, science says, we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

It also highlights that by 2030, Double energy efficiency and triple renewable energy.

but It has many loopholesNow, like the climate finance pledge, it stands at $100 billion, while it is estimated that more than $2.5 trillion is needed.

President of the Conference of the Parties Ahmed Al-Jaber praises the agreement at the summit (Reuters/Amr Al-Feki)

The COP28 agreement will not prevent countries and oil industries from developing new fossil fuel projects. I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted to.

There are no mechanisms linking countries

States only comply with agreements of their own volition. I So far they are mostly violating conventions. Starting with the breach of the 2015 Paris Agreement which stipulates that the transition must be carried out according to science. Science urges a much faster transformation. The European Union also does not adhere to the Paris Agreement.

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But what COP28 will do is just that Accelerate progress already made in the political sphereOr social, commercial, financial, technological or international cooperation. Progress is still too slow to cope with the rapid collapse of the climate system.

A broad plan is needed

“A convincing plan on how to transition away from fossil fuels, which will not happen through voluntary national action.” This was stated on Wednesday by one of the world’s most respected climate scientists, Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

“Collective and global action is needed on finance, carbon pricing and technology sharing, on a scale that goes far beyond what is now on the table.”

also Adaptation plans are neededAs the poorest countries claim, on all levels.

We need to prepare for Longer droughts and more intense heat wavesstronger storms, fewer harvests, more extreme peaks of atmospheric pollution, to avoid further degradation of ecosystems, to ensure resilient infrastructures, to have climate refuges, to destabilize geopolitics, to deteriorate democracy.

The effects of the climate crisis are being felt in many parts of the world, such as in the Amazon region where water must be distributed (Reuters/Bruno Kelly)

Time available? This decade, perhaps the 1930s

last weekAnnual global emissions report From carbon dioxide? As usual, emissions continue to grow, and are expected to increase by 1.1% in 2023.

If the trend continues, In 2030 we will exceed the safety threshold of 1.5°C of global warming in a stable manner and in 2038, 1.7 degrees Celsius.

It is considered so From 1.7 degrees Celsius it will be very difficult to reverse In global warming, there is a high risk that many feedback processes will be triggered.

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Are we crossing the turning points?

Also last week, the long-awaited report was published Global turning pointsWhich defines the safety thresholds of natural systems, and the turning points, without turning back, from degradation.

There are five systems that may have already passed their tipping points: Pacific ice green land And those of the ocean South Pole Western, North Atlantic circulationthe Coral reefs From tropical waters and PermafrostThe sun has been frozen for thousands of years in Siberia and Canada.

Three other systems could cross the 1.5°C tipping point: boreal forests, mangroves, and seagrasses.

Risk of collapse

It is very difficult for us to make the transition at the necessary scale and speed. It makes sense, because The social, economic and energy system must be changed international.

But we will eventually, sooner or later, because the effects will increase. The challenge is to do this in a timely manner to avoid chaos, if it happens at all Collapse of civilization.

As long as we do not reach zero emissions, we will continue to increase global warming. When we reach zero global warming and climate impacts, climate impacts will stabilize for many decades. If it is too late, for centuries. This is because it does not make everything much worse due to feedback from the climate system itself.

The future is open

We cannot predict the future, we can only predict probabilities. This is one of the contributions of theoretical physics from a century ago. A contribution that is broadly enhanced by research into complex systems, such as ecosystems or the Earth system. We can never predict the future of a complex system, because it is linked to the interactions of the elements that make up the system, which together generate new transformations and increasing complexity.

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That’s why the Global Turning Points Report highlights what else Global Turning Points has to offer Our best hope: positive turning points in our societies and economiesAs is the case with renewable energies, transportation electrification, social movements and plant-based diets. “It is time to unleash a series of positive turning points to ensure security, justice and a sustainable future for humanity.”

We are pushing the climate limits, but the game is on. Because we are also elements of the Earth system. We play this game too. No matter what happens, the game will always go on.

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