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'High probability' of global warming reaching 2 degrees by mid-century, study suggests

Professor Peter Thorne of Maynooth University said the research should be taken seriously, but added that it is just a single study.

THERE IS A high probability of global warming reaching 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century, according to a new study

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2 Celsius above levels measured between 1850 and 1900 – and 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

Today’s study, published by researchers from Stanford and Colorado State University, found thaty there is a high probability of global warming reaching the 2 degrees threshold by mid-century.

The researchers said this suggests that even with greenhouse gas mitigation, there is still a possibility of failing to achieve the UN Paris Agreement goal. 

The researchers also said that while there have been a number of assessments of the time until the thresholds in the Paris Agreement are likely to be reached, their study used AI methods. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, director of the Icarus Climate Research Centre at Maynooth University Professor Peter Thorne said the research should be taken seriously, but added that it is just a single study. 

He said the study is “consistent” with previous research on the 1.5 degree warming, but added it diverges somewhat more on 2 degrees warming. He said this is an area that will need to be further examined. 

Professor Thorne said that while temperature increases are “linear”, the effects are not. 

“They will get much worse at 1.5 degrees, than the 1.1 degrees we have today, and they will get much, much worse at 2 degrees centigrade,” he said. 

He said that it is very important that people are aware “it will get worse very quickly”. 

He added, however, that “it’s never really too late to take action on climate change”. 

“In regards to mitigating against even worse outcomes, we need to get serious about it and we need to get serious about it now,” Professor Thorne said. 

In relation to the use of AI in the research published today, he said it is an “interesting approach”. 

“I think it’s too early to say whether it could be a game changer, but certainly what it does do is bring the benefit of looking at it in yet another different way,” he said. 

Professor Thorne said that it is not quite clear why this new research is so pessimistic around the 2C, and it will take time to work that through.

He also warned people to “be aware the single study syndrome”.

“The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) looked at many hundreds of studies to come to its careful deliberations, which did point to the fact that early action and aggressive action on mitigation can keep us below 2 degrees, but it is very aggressive and very early action, far more than we have thus far either nationally or globally.”

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