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Unequal impact

Global warming target misleading, say Swiss scientists

A 2°C increase in average global temperatures will affect different regions of the world differently, according to Swiss researchers. Temperatures in the Arctic could rise up to 6°C under this scenario. 

The consensus at the recent COP21 climate conference in Paris to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C is “abstract” and “invites misunderstanding” according to Sonia Seneviratne, of the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) who led the study along with climate researchers from the UK and Australia. 

This is because temperature will rise more sharply over land than over oceans and different regions will experience different levels of warming. The results of the study that was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature demonstrate that a 2°C rise in global average temperatures could mean slightly more than 3°C of warming for the US, 3.2°C for Brazil and 3.4°C for the Mediterranean region. The Arctic will be the worst affected region experiencing 6°C of warming. 

“Previous studies were more qualitative offering various high-risk and low-risk scenarios but this study offers a quantitative assessment of the issue,” Seneviratne told swissinfo.ch.

The study provides temperature and precipitation models for 26 different regions around the world and is expected to serve as a useful tool for future climate negotiations. 

“The regional impact of a global warming will help policy makers decide how much below 2°C the target needs to be,” says Seneviratne. “People most affected by the impact of global warming will be able to have an informed say on what critical global temperature threshold they would not want to be exceeded.” 


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