IN THE NEWS: Why a Global-Warming Pact Won’t Stop Global Warming

Thursday, August 7, 2014
National Journal   (Browse all news)

Ben Geman
National Journal

Don't expect too much from the global climate-change accord that's expected to emerge from high-stakes international talks in Paris next year.

A new MIT study concludes that even if negotiators reach a deal at the United Nations conference, it probably won't be enough to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That's the level many scientists say would help stave off some of the most dangerous and disruptive effects of climate change.

Here's the study's bottom line on what to expect from the so-called Conference of the Parties 21 in Paris: "Based on our expectations for the architecture of a COP-21 agreement, and our predictions about the national contributions likely to come forth under it, our analysis concludes that these international efforts will indeed bend the curve of global emissions. However, our results also show that these efforts will not put the globe on a path consistent with commonly stated long-term climate goals," states the paper by economics professor Henry Jacoby and Y-H Henry Chen, who both work with MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The 2°C ceiling has been highly optimistic for a while, as global greenhouse-gas emissions continue to soar.

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