Why is the 1.5 degree Celsius target critical?

Source: The post is based on the article

“Why is the 1.5 degree Celsius target critical?” Published in The Hindu on 29th May 2023.

“Fighting climate change” in Business Standard on 29th Mat 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3 -Environmental Degradation and Climate Change

Context: The article discusses the importance of the 1.5-degree Celsius target.

World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) recently released reports indicate that by 2027, the average global temperature will exceed 1.5 degrees, a critical point beyond which there may be no return.

The report has also predicted that 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise will happen over the next five years rather than the originally predicted timeline of 2033-37, due to el-nino factors.

Initially, for decades 2 degrees was an acceptable level of warming. However, Small Island countries opposed it as it threatened their survival. The 1.5°C target was officially recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018.

1.5°C target implies average planetary warming to 1.5 degree.

What is the significance of a 1.5-degree target?

The IPCC’s 2018 report outlined the consequences of crossing 1.5-degree threshold. The report outlined potential outcomes, including more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, a rise in sea levels, and destruction of ecosystems.

What are the causes behind crossing the threshold?

Developed G7 nations, responsible for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions, have largely failed to fulfill their climate action pledges.

Countries such as Australia, the U.S., Japan, Russia, and Canada have made little progress, while China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also rank low in climate performance.

The recent cyclone “Mocha”, which hit Myanmar and Bangladesh earlier this month, exemplified these heightened risks.

Now, Covid Pandemic and Ukraine crisis have added to the rising threat.

How recent G7 summit is trying to tackle the climate change?

At leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, the G7 claimed that its own emissions have peaked. It means the bulk of the responsibility now lies with major emerging powers such as China and India.

The final communique asked all major economies to ensure that their individual emissions do not continue to rise after 2025 and reiterated claims to hit net zero by 2050.

However, G7 country’s claim is not rightful, because:

  1. First, the cut-off year of 2025 has not been mandated by any international agreement.
  2. Second, it is difficult to understand the G7 claims of reaching peak emissions when major powers such as Germany, struggling with lower gas supplies from Russia.
  3. Third, developed countries have committed to spending just $100 billion per year in support of climate action in developing countries.

What are the impacts of rising temperatures on the Weather Events?

There is a mass loss of glaciers in High-mountain Asia, Western North America, and South America.

The WMO’s reports suggest an increase in precipitation anomalies and marine heat waves relative to marine cold spells.

Climate change exacerbates food insecurity, displacement, and mortality while negatively affecting crop yields and increasing the risks posed by agricultural pests and diseases.

How does it impact India?

India has been experiencing increased impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, hotter temperatures, and unpredictable monsoons.

As per India Meteorological Department, India saw 573 climate disasters, causing 138,377 deaths, between 1970 and 2021.

However, India has performed better on Climate Change Performance Index 2023 than many developed nations. India’s performance has been a result of Green Hydrogen Mission and the introduction of green bonds.

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