World’s top climate scientists expect global heating to blast past 1.5˚C target

Hundreds of the world’s leading climate scientists expect global temperatures to rise to at least 2.5˚C (4.5˚F) above preindustrial levels this century.

Almost 80% of the respondents, all from the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), foresee at least 2.5˚C of global heating, while almost half anticipate at least 3˚C (5.4˚F). Only 6% thought the internationally agreed 1.5˚C (2.7˚F) limit would be met.

Many of the scientists envisage a “semi-dystopian” future, with famines, conflicts and mass migration, driven by heatwaves, wildfires, floods and storms of an intensity and frequency far beyond those that have already struck.

Numerous experts said they had been left feeling hopeless, infuriated and scared by the failure of governments to act despite the clear scientific evidence provided.

“I think we are headed for major societal disruption within the next five years,” said Gretta Pecl, at the University of Tasmania. “[Authorities] will be overwhelmed by extreme event after extreme event, food production will be disrupted. I could not feel greater despair over the future.”

The experts were clear on why the world is failing to tackle the climate crisis. A lack of political will was cited by almost three-quarters of the respondents, while 60% also blamed vested corporate interests, such as the fossil fuel industry.