According to a joint report from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, climate change has been underestimated and is progressing more quickly than anticipated, with severe impacts already being felt by millions globally at current levels of warming.
The climate emergency report suggests that greenhouse gas levels are increasing, adding that the current pledges are inadequate to meet the 1.5°C target.
It writes, “We need to plan for further warming and climate impacts through adaptation. As warming increases beyond the 1.2C level we are at today, so will the impacts we feel.”
The report observes that a warming of 1.5˚C is extremely risky, with a high chance of triggering multiple climate tipping points.
According to the report, these include the collapse of ice sheets in Greenland, West Antarctica and the Himalayas, permafrost melt, Amazon dieback and halting major ocean current circulation.
Additionally, it suggests that these tipping points may interact, triggering each other, and once triggered, they may be irreversible and would act to accelerate global warming and increase the severity of impacts.
The report notes, “The Glasgow Climate Pact target of 1.5°C should be seen as similar to a ruin limit for our global society. While severe outcomes are already emerging, risks increase the closer to (and further beyond) 1.5°C we get.
“The increased likelihood of these risks and the severity of impacts above 1.5 reinforce the need to reduce our emissions to net zero as rapidly as possible. Current pledges are inadequate to meet even the 1.5°C target.”
The climate emergency report suggests that net-zero carbon budgets only give a 50% chance or less of limiting warming to 1.5°C, which it says represents an unreasonable risk.
Delivering a stable climate for future generations will require removing historic emissions, says the report, adding that this will require going beyond net zero to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, using both technological and natural solutions.
Sir David King, Climate Crisis Advisory Group founder and Chair, commented, “Human-caused climate change has run down the clock and soon there will be no time left to meet the goals set under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The action we take in the next five to ten years will determine the future of humanity for the next millennium.
“While daunting, we have great agency here. It is still technically possible to reduce emissions and stabilise the climate.”