The world is getting further off track in limiting global warming with setbacks in Japan and Australia outweighing positive signals from the United States and China, a study showed on Wednesday.
A Climate Action Tracker compiled by scientists said the world was headed for a temperature rise of 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times by 2100, against 3.1C (5.8F) if governments stuck to promised cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Governments meeting in Warsaw from Nov. 11-22 are trying to find ways to limit global warming to an agreed ceiling of less than 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels to avert more heatwaves, droughts, downpours and rising sea levels.
“We are seeing a major risk of a further downward spiral in ambition, a retreat from action, and a re-carbonisation of the energy system led by the use of coal,” said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics.
Wednesday’s study, by Climate Analytics, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Ecofys, said Japan’s decision last week to ease its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions goals made it harder to reach the global 2C goal.
Japan said its original emissions goal of a 25 percent cut below 1990 levels was out of reach after its nuclear power industry was shuttered by the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The new goal is for a maximum 3 percent rise.
Australia’s new policies, shifting from an emissions trading scheme, would also marginally raise emissions, adding to a problem that many nations were failing to stick to curbs on emissions agreed in 2009.
“These negative signals tend to outweigh some positive signals,” the study said, noting that U.S. President Barack Obama had outlined tougher action and that China was, for instance, banning coal-fired power plants in some areas.
In September, the U.N. panel of climate scientists said that world temperature rises were headed to exceed 2.0C under most of its scenarios. It said that limiting warming would require “substantial and sustained” cuts in emissions.
The panel also raised the probability that human activities are the main cause of warming since 1950 to 95 percent, up from 90 percent in its previous assessment in 2007.
The Warsaw talks are meant to lay the groundwork for a global deal in 2015 to combat climate change.
But many developed governments are focusing more on reviving weak economic growth than cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, while developing nations led by China and India insist that the rich have to take the lead.
(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by John Stonestreet)