Climate change: Where we are in seven charts
The UN has warned the 2015 Paris accord’s goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels” is in danger because major economies, including the US and the EU, are falling short of their pledges.
But scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the leading international body on global warming – last month argued the 2C Paris pledge didn’t go far enough. The global average temperature rise actually needed to be kept below 1.5C, they said.
So how warm has the world got and what can we do about it?
1. The world has been getting hotter
The world is now nearly one degree warmer than it was before widespread industrialisation, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The global average temperature for the first 10 months of 2018 was 0.98C above the levels of 1850-1900, according to five independently maintained global data sets.
(If you can’t see this chart tap or click here)
The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with 2015-2018 making up the top four, the WMO says.
If this trend continues, temperatures may rise by 3-5C by 2100.
One degree may not sound like much, but, according to the IPCC, if countries fail to act, the world will face catastrophic change – sea levels will rise, ocean temperatures and acidity will increase and our ability to grow crops, such as rice, maize and wheat, would be in danger.
- What is in the Paris climate agreement?
- Final call to stop ‘climate catastrophe’
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2. The year 2018 set all sorts of records
This year saw record high temperatures in many places across the world amid an unusually prolonged period of hot weather.
Large parts of the northern hemisphere saw a succession of heatwaves take hold in Europe, Asia, North America and northern Africa – a result of strong high pressure systems that created a “heat dome”.
Over the period shown on the map below (May to July 2018), the yellow dots show where a heat record was broken on a given date, pink indicates places that were the hottest they had ever been in the month shown, and dark red represents a place that was the hottest since records began.
The hottest that this location has ever been…
Tap or click to explore the dataSource: Robert A. Rohde/Berkeley Earth. Map built using Carto
The concern is that such hot and cold weather fronts are being blocked – stuck over regions for long periods – more frequently because of climate change, leading to more extreme weather events.
3. We are not on track to meet climate change targets
If we add up all the promises to cut emissions made by countries that have signed the Paris climate agreement, the world would still warm by more than 3C by the end of this century.