Global warming could hit 5°C, says Defra scientist

24th August 2012


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Mitigation

Author

IEMA

Defra's chief scientist Sir Bob Watson has warned there is 'almost no chance' that global temperature rises can be restricted to 2°C and that a 5°C rise is possible

In an interview with Channel 4, Watson argued that there was now only a 50/50 chance that global warming could be stopped at 3°C and that coordinated international action is crucial if the impacts of climate change are to be limited in future.

“There’s no question that the movement under the climate convention is unbelievably slow, with some countries blocking any progress,” he said. “However, we need emissions in literally all countries to be reduced... international action is absolutely critical.”

The outgoing science chief argued in favour of bilateral negotiations between administrations such as the EU and China, and multilateral movement through groups like the G20, to complement ongoing UN negotiations.

“It’s not just about the big economies like the EU, the US and Japan, it needs to include India, China, Brazil and Mexico as well as emerging economies like Indonesia and Kurdistan,” he said

Watson also called on governments to work with businesses to develop the new technologies necessary to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, such as carbon capture and storage which he lamented had seen “a lot of rhetoric” from politicians, but “not much action”.

“We need consortia of countries and the private sector working on these new technologies,” he said. “We need political action, with governments working with the private sector and supported by the public. The challenge is how to bring these things together.”

Watson acknowledged that some of the momentum towards tackling climate change had been lost in recent years as governments have focused on improving their economic situations, but he warned that action could no longer wait.

“If we do, we will not only see a 2°C temperature rise, or a 3°C or 4°C rise,” he said. “The challenge is how do we stimulate the economy, create jobs and address climate change.”

Watson argued that energy efficiency will play a crucial role.

“Whether it is in transportation, buildings or everyday home life, [energy efficiency] is absolutely essential,” he said.

“If we continue as we are I wouldn’t rule out a 5°C world... and that type of world would have very adverse effects on society, especially on the poor people in developing countries that today don’t have adequate food and water.

“This is a serious issue that we need to deal with and there are solutions that are cost effective.”

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close