Average global temperatures are rising at an ever faster rate despite pledges by world leaders to tackle climate change, a new study has revealed.
The new study, released last week during a preparatory meeting for the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference that will take place later this year in the United Arab Emirates, found that the pace of global warming has accelerated in recent years despite political commitments to curb the progress of the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.
Global temperatures increased on average by 1.07 degrees C (1.93 degrees F) in the decade from 2010 to 2019, but the average rise in the decade from 2013 to 2022 was 1.14 degrees C (2.05 degrees F). That means that the pace of human-induced climate change is accelerating at a rate of over 0.2 degrees C per decade. The researchers said that the still- rising levels of human-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main culprit.
In 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, leaders from 195 nations agreed to work toward limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) compared to preindustrial times. Despite this agreement, emissions of key greenhouse gases are "at an all-time high," the study found.
In the last decade, humankind has been releasing about 54 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year into Earth's atmosphere through various industrial activities. The failure to curb these emissions means that humankind can now only release about 250 more gigatonnes of carbon dioxide before global warming reaches the 1.5 degrees C limit. In a previous carbon budget assessment in 2020, researchers found that humankind still had over 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to reach the threshold, which shows that without significant changes, the world will be through its global carbon budget in less than five years.
"Even though we are not yet at 1.5 degrees C warming, the carbon budget will likely be exhausted in only a few years as we have a triple whammy of heating from very high carbon dioxide emissions, heating from increases in other greenhouse gas emissions and heating from reductions in pollution," Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures at Leeds University and one of the authors of the study said in a statement. "If we don't want to see the 1.5 degrees C goal disappearing in our rearview mirror, the world must work much harder and urgently at bringing emissions down."
The researchers describe the results as a "wake-up call" and stress that with every small increment in average global temperatures, the world is set for more frequent and severe weather disasters such as droughts, floods and tropical storms.
"It is critical that policy makers and the general public be made aware of how quickly we are changing the climate through our collective activities," Professor Peter Thorne, Director of ICARUS Climate Research Centre at Maynooth University and co-author of the research, said in the statement. "Already since the IPCC assessment of the physical science basis in 2021, key numbers have changed markedly and we remain well off track globally to avert warming above 1.5 degrees."
The study was published on June 8 in the journal Earth System Science Data.