Report says climate change to be dangerous by 2050
THE world could hit two degrees of warming - the point where many scientists believe climate change will become dangerous - as early as 2050, a report by leading experts has warned.
In The Truth About Climate Change, they said many people saw global warming as "abstract, distant and even controversial".
But the planet was now heating up "much faster" than anticipated, said Sir Robert Watson, a former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the authors of the report.
If they are right, most people alive today will experience life on a dangerously overheated planet.
At the Paris Climate Summit last year, world leaders agreed to try to limit global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees above pre- industrial levels as possible - amid concerns a two- degree target might not be safe.
But last year the level of warming reached one degree after an astonishing 0.15 degree rise in three years.
Droughts, floods, wildfires and storms are all set to increase as the world warms, threatening crops and causing the extinction of species.
The report warned the 1.5-degree target had "almost certainly already been missed".
Even if all the pledges to cut emissions made at Paris were fulfilled, the average temperature was set to rise by 1.5 degrees in the early 2030s and two degrees by 2050.
Professor Watson said: "Climate change is happening now and much faster than anticipated. While the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is an important step in the right direction, what is needed is a doubling or tripling of efforts.
"Without additional efforts by all major emitters, the two-degree target could be reached even sooner."
An extra 0.4 to 0.5 degrees warming was expected because of greenhouse gases already emitted and the slow response of the ocean and atmosphere.
There was "still time to slow down the current path towards the two-degree target", the report stressed.
The experts called for drastic changes to the way the world produces and uses energy, with a switch to electric cars among steps that should be taken quickly.
They also said carbon capture and storage of emissions from fossil fuel power stations and industrial plants could be part of the solution if the system could be made to work.
Deforestation should be reduced and more trees planted.
Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, described the findings as "extremely worrying".
"If we hit two degrees by 2050 then we will be well on the way to a really terrifying three-degree-plus scenario by the end of the century," he said.
"The world's ice-caps will be in full-scale meltdown, and large areas of what are now breadbaskets could become deserts, threatening serious global food shortages.
"We would likely lose all the tropical coral reefs, combined with a devastating mass extinction of plants and animals more widely."