Warning About Critical Threshold for Global Warming

Global warming is driving intense changes in Earth’s climate. But the international community has been dragging its feet on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming. Now the planet is on track to cross a critical threshold that would undercut the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s according to a report released Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations. The report offered a path to controlling the problem — if humanity cooperates quickly to slash global emissions.

Professor Robert Kopp, a sea-level-rise expert at Rutgers University who served as a contributing author to the report, joined NJ Spotlight News to discuss the report, climate, and what needs to be done.


the message is simple but Stark time is

running out to save the planet the

latest climate change report released by

the U.N late yesterday showed that Earth

is on track to reach a critical

threshold that will lead to dangerous

overheating with catastrophic results in

the next decade but all hope is not lost

according to scientists if countries are

willing to make immediate and drastic

shifts away from fossil fuels for our

ongoing series Peril and promise

examining the human impact of climate

change I'm joined Now by Bob Kopp a sea

level rise professor at Rutgers

University and a contributing author to

that un report Bob thanks so much for

being with us today I've got to say the

message feels dire the Earth is in

trouble what will be the global impacts

if collectively Nations don't change


well right now we are on track for

exceeding the one and a half degrees

Celsius Target set out in the Paris

agreement and by the middle of the next

decade or so

and so in order to avoid overshooting

that Target by too much

we need to be on a trajectory that gets

our emissions rapidly to zero if we

actually wanted to stay below that


um which has been set out as a goal we

would need to get our global net carbon

dioxide emissions to Zero by around the

middle of the century

um and have roughly 50 reductions uh by

the end of this decade that's very

ambitious now one and a half degrees C

is not a cliff every increment of

warming makes things a little worse it

makes heat waves more severe it makes

sea level rise a little faster

um and makes the challenges we all face


um people with lower income and people

who have contributed less the problem

makes those challenges more severe

um so every increment we can do to

prevent the uh the ultimate magnitude of

ride to lower that ultimate magnitude of

Rise helps a little bit the UN report

really recommends shifting away from

fossil fuels in a in a dramatic way what

should that look like

well you know what the report says that

if you is that if you look at the

scenarios consistent with the targets

that the nation of the world agreed that

means you know the more stringent Target

set out on the Paris agreement one and a

half degrees Celsius that would mean

something like Net Zero Global emissions

of carbon dioxide by the 2050s the less

stringent Target about two degrees

Celsius that would be Net Zero by about

the 2070s so either way it would mean

getting emissions onto a downward

trajectory very rapidly the report also

says that shifting to a low carbon

economy would require about three to six

times more investment than what we've

already invested in green energy just in

terms of dollars what does that mean

here in the US and can we afford it

well the question is what can't we


um right in many cases in fact these are

investments uh that save us uh money in

the long run

um both not just because we're avoiding

the impacts of climate change because

also actually

um if you look uh at the world today

things like solar energy tend to be the

cheapest source of energy so a lot of

the these

um Technologies I think where we spend

money up front to save money in the long

run now the transition is not free it

requires it will require spending money

but continuing to invest in fossil fuels

continuing to dump carbon dioxide into

the atmosphere these all also bear

substantial costs

um and so you know the the

um from an economic perspective it's a

trade-off between you know spending a

little money now to get things that are

you know in some cases directly

benefiting our health so the report

talks about how the air pollution

reduction benefits of transitioning

fossil fuels would practically be enough

to say for hey for a lot of the

transition itself

um as well as the benefits of not

continuing to turn up the planetary

thermostat you mentioned who is impacted

and the issue of climate Justice does

come up in this report you mentioned

it's often folks who who didn't

contribute who is most impacted by these

Rising temperatures

yeah so it depends on what impact you're

looking at but the general pattern is

pretty clear the most severe impacts of

climate change tend to fall upon people

who are in hotter parts of the world and

from people who have fewer resources

um right so we've done work in my group

and collaborators on the global Health

impacts of climate change and there you

have a very clear pattern where you know

the low-income countries tend to be

hotter and they get the most severe


um you know people up in Scandinavia

might actually get some health benefits

from a slightly warmer climate but it's

the the people in Europe and North

America and increasingly in China who

are contributing the most to the problem

not necessarily the complacent people

getting the most harm from it absolutely

Bob Kopp thank you so much for your

expertise here

my pleasure

lead funding for parallel and promise is

provided by Dr p Roy vagalos and Diana T

vagalos major support is provided by the

Marc Haas foundation and Sue and Edgar

Wachenheim III and the Cheryl and

Philip milstein family


thank you