‘Many people don’t notice it yet. But at temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees they squeak differently’

The average temperature on earth will rise more than the one and a half degrees stated in the Paris agreement, even if all climate plans that are currently on the table are implemented.

‘Humanity is breaking all the wrong records on climate change.’ With those strong words, UNEP Director Inger Andersen opened her annual meeting Emissions Gap Report . UNEP is the United Nations environmental program that has calculated the climate plans of a large number of world countries.

With all those plans – and it is already doubtful whether they will all be implemented – global greenhouse gas emissions will shrink by two to nine percent until 2030.

That is too little in the light of the agreements in Paris from 2015. At that time, administrators agreed to reduce global warming. below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. If that were not possible, the warming had to at least remain below 2 degrees.

But to achieve the latter, global greenhouse gas emissions must decrease by 28 percent. That 1.5 degree even requires a decrease of 42 percent.

‘Soon people will beep differently’

This more than 2.5 degree warming is something we will certainly experience, says Richard Bintanja, professor of Climate and Environmental Change at the University of Groningen. “In the long term, in addition to sea level rise, we will mainly notice climate extremes. Heavy precipitation, prolonged drought, heat waves. People often do not yet see how this will turn out because the extremes still fall more or less within the span of the current climate, but if temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees suddenly occur in cities – with more than 30 degrees at night – then people will beep differently.”

These extremes come suddenly, Bintanja warns. “It is impossible to predict exactly when they will occur, just as the temperature above 40 degrees in 2019 could not be predicted. We can only say that they are becoming more and more likely due to warming.”

‘Don’t make any new plans yet’

“A lot still needs to be done to further reduce the warming forecast,” adds energy transition lecturer Martien Visser of Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen. Yet Visser is cautiously optimistic, because other reports also mention warming of more than 4 degrees. “Just one and a half degrees of warming is virtually impossible, I think. It is possible that we will reach well below three degrees. Climate requirements are becoming increasingly strict. We are rapidly generating solar and wind energy, also in countries such as China and the United States.”

But to be clear: we must do what we have promised, says Visser. “In the Netherlands the biggest problem is implementation. Just try to find a contractor if you want to have your house insulated. The Netherlands must first implement the plans that already exist, we do not need to make new plans yet.”

“Take Groningen with all its intentions for hydrogen. That’s nice, but the hydrogen isn’t there yet. This of course has to do with regulations, costs and uncertainties, but let’s get that done first.”