Climate-related risks depend on the speed of future warming. An increase to 2,0 degrees leads to significant changes, according to the IPCC.
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Human activities have so far caused global warming of 1,0 degrees compared to the level before the start of industrialization. If this trend continues, global warming could reach 2030 degrees in 1,5. An increase to 2,0 degrees could be devastating. This makes a sustainable lifestyle and the conscious use of natural resources all the more important.
The consequences of climate change
The consequences of global warming for natural and human systems are clearly observable. Many land and marine ecosystems have changed due to global warming. Heat extremes, heavy precipitation and drought are the noticeable consequences. In coastal areas there is also a threat of salinisation and flooding. Individual islands even threaten to lose their existence.
Developing countries are particularly hard hit, as extreme weather conditions there lead to increased poverty. Aid funds are often not enough for dismantling and reconstruction. But the industrialized countries have also felt the effects of climate-related weather extremes. Snow storms in the USA, extreme heat in Europe, forest fires in Australia, to name just a few incidents in recent years.
Climate researcher Andres Levermann assumes that coastal cities such as Hamburg, Venice, Tokyo, Shanghai and New York are now also specifically threatened if the tipping points exceed their limit values.
Tipping points are points in the climate system that cause irreversible changes in nature due to minor external influences, e.g. increased warming. A domino effect can then lead to an acceleration of climate change. Examples of this are the melting of ice in the Arctic or deforestation of the rainforest.
Which countries and areas cause CO2 emissions?
An increase in global warming to 2,0 degrees would have far-reaching consequences. In particular, rising sea levels and melting glaciers would expose humans and the environment to dangerous climate change. Limiting global warming to 1,5 degrees requires rapid changes in all areas of society, the IPCC stated in its "Special report on limiting global warming to 1,5 degrees".
It is about a drastic reduction in emissions in the areas of energy, industry, buildings, transport in cities and in the countryside. Because these make up the majority of greenhouse gases. We emitted around 2019 billion tons of greenhouse gases worldwide in 41. Of this, 50% through electricity and heat generation, 20% through transport and 20% through industrial production.
Almost 70% of the greenhouse gases are caused by six nations alone, including Germany. Even if Germany has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, countries like China, USA and India do not follow suit. Most recently, the USA is even out of the Paris Agreement got out. An agreement from 2015 between 195 nations to keep global warming well below 2 degrees.
CO2 emissions by international comparison
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, CO2 emissions in million tonnes
Climate neutrality up to 2050
In order to limit global warming to 1,5 degrees, emissions would have to be reduced by 2030 percent by 2010 compared to 45 - and by 2050 at the latest, carbon dioxide emissions must be climate-neutral, according to the IPCC.
This can be achieved, for example, through the use of renewable energies or the afforestation of forests. According to Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Weather Organization, the technical means are given that ambition is lacking.
The following graphic from the BP Energy Outlook clearly shows the causes of the greenhouse gases. Energy consumption, growing population and prosperity lead under the current conditions to further increasing carbon dioxide values up to the year 2040.
A reduction of 40% or more can primarily be achieved by reducing CO2 energy consumption and increasing efficiency in the industrial and transport sectors. Above all, through the use of renewable energies and low-carbon production and infrastructure.
Main driver of CO2 emissions
Action required to reduce emissions by 40% to 2040
Source: BP World Energy Outlook Carbon Emissions beyond 2040, scenario ET (without measures) vs. RT (with measures), CO2 emissions in Gt
Politics, people and business are equally in demand
The impacts and reactions of climate change are closely linked to sustainable development, which balances social well-being, economic prosperity and environmental protection. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) provide a recognized framework for assessing the linkages including poverty eradication, inequality reduction and climate action.
But every single person is also in demand and can help to slow down climate change. In everyday life alone, there are countless ways to start with little things to save our planet. Please read our infographic with the 5 Ultimate Tips for Climate Protection.