PARIS • Earth is on track to sail past the 2 deg C threshold for dangerous global warming by 2050, seven of the world's top climate scientists have warned.
"Climate change is happening now, and much faster than anticipated," said Sir Robert Watson, former head of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), the body charged with distilling climate science for policymakers.
Since 1990, devastating weather-related events - floods, drought, more intense storms, heatwaves and wildfires - due to climate change have doubled in number, Sir Robert and the other scientists said in a report.
"Without additional efforts by all major emitters (of greenhouse gases), the 2 deg C target could be reached even sooner," Sir Robert said on Thursday.
The planet has already heated up 1 deg C above the pre-industrial benchmark, and could see its first year at 1.5 deg C within a decade, scientists reported at a conference in Oxford last week.
The Paris Agreement, inked by 195 nations in December, set an even more ambitious target, vowing to cap warming at "well under" 2 deg C and even 1.5 deg C if possible.
The pact will likely enter into force by the end of the year, a record speed for an international treaty. It is set to be ratified by India tomorrow and perhaps by some European Union nations in the coming days, pushing it over a threshold needed to enter into force. It needs backing from 55 nations accounting for 55 per cent of world emissions. So far, 61 nations accounting for 47.8 per cent of emissions have ratified the pact, led by China and the United States, according to UN data.
The signatories have submitted voluntary national pledges for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Those pledges, however, are "totally inadequate", the report said.
"If governments are serious about trying to achieve even the 2 deg C goal, they will have to double and re-double their efforts - now," Sir Robert said. "I think it is fair to say that there is literally no chance of making the 1.5 deg C target."
Urgent steps needed to decarbonise the global economy include improving energy efficiency, switching to renewable energy production, and removal of fossil fuel subsidies, said the report, entitledThe Truth About Climate Change.
The co-authors included Dr Carlo Carraro, scientific director of the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Italy, and vice-chair of one of three IPCC working groups.
Last year was the hottest year on record and this year is shaping up to be even warmer, US and European government scientists have forecast.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS