Even emissions cuts outlined in the Paris Agreement won’t be enough to prevent an uptick in Arctic temperatures set to raise sea levels across the globe, says a report released by the United Nations this week.
According to the report, even if the world were to meet these benchmarks, temperatures in the Arctic would continue to rise by another 3-5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
‘What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,’ said Joyce Msuya, UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director.
‘We have the science; now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought.’
According to the U.N. a drastic temperature shift further imperiling Arctic ice is ‘locked in”
The results of that temperature change could spell out drastic reductions in already rapidly waning sea ice and result in changing landscapes across the world.
According to the report, an estimated 4 million people are set to be affected by the thaw worldwide.
‘The urgency to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement is clearly manifested in the Arctic, because it is one of the most vulnerable and rapidly changing regions in the world,’ said the Finnish Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen in a statement.
‘We need to make substantial near-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, black carbon and other so-called short-lived climate pollutants all over the world.’
Even if global emissions were to stop overnight, the Earth would continue to warm due to gases trapped in the atmosphere and oceans
Since 1979, the world’s sea ice has declined by 40 percent and if emissions rates continue, researchers say the arctic could be completely ice free by some time in the 2030’s.
Further compounding the danger of rapidly melting Arctic ice, is the a phenomenon known as ‘positive feedback.’
As the sea ice melts, according to scientists, carbon that is trapped in the permafrost is released into the atmosphere, further accelerating the warming process.
Scientists say there is an estimated 1.67 billion metric tons of carbon currently trapped in the Arctic’s frozen soil and ice.
If that carbon were to be released, the report says it could imperil the Paris Accord’s benchmark of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT?
The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.
It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.
It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.
In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the US, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:
1) A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels
2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change
3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries
4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science