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A hot summer around the world - climate change is real!😱

The unprecedented summer heat does not bode well for our collective goal to keep our global temperature to at or below 1.5°C (2.7°F) from preindustrial levels, preconditions that could limit the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change. What does it mean and what do we need to do?

MioTech Research2022-08-08

Have you felt the recent heat wave?

Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, is posing serious and irreversible risks to both the environment and people. The consequences include threatening lives, disrupting the food system, destroying nature, and reducing biodiversity.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperature in the first half of 2022 has reached the sixth warmest in NOAA's 143-year history. There is a high possibility that 2022 will be among the top ten for all-year high temperatures on record.

Record-breaking heatwave in Europe

Since June, heat waves have swept the northern hemisphere. The temperature in Europe this summer is significantly higher than previous years. Starting from last week, multiple European countries have issued excessive heat warnings. Of the 47 European countries with the highest temperatures recorded on file, 21 of them occurred in the past 10 years.

According to the UK Met Office, on July 19, the temperature reached 40.3 degrees Celsius. This is the first time in the UK that the temperature has exceeded 40 degrees Celsius. The temperature rise (1.5 degrees Celsius) and area of coverage are unprecedented.

France, Spain, Portugal and Greece are all affected by the heat which caused wildfires. Carbon emissions caused by the Spanish wildfires in June and July set the highest temperature record since 2003. The Greek government has described this summer as one of the worst in the history of the Mediterranean region. As of July 23th, wildfires occurred in 16 European countries, destroying a total of more than 95,000 hectares.

U.S. experiences a super drought year

The U.S. recorded 13.84 inches of rainfall in the first half of the year which is 1.47 inches below average, making it the third-driest year on record. The first half of the year was the driest on record for California, with Nevada and Utah ranking second and third, respectively.

Droughts caused by extreme heat have also put enormous pressure on local agriculture and livestock. According to statistics, 30% of corn and 26% of soybeans in the United States are grown in dry regions. July is the pollination phase for corn planting in the Midwest region. Severe water shortages threaten crops such as corn and soybeans, causing production shocks.

Asia also sets high temperature records

Summer in Asia never misses the news headline, but this year the situation is particularly severe. On June 25th, parts of Japan experienced high temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius, making the hottest June in Japan on record. On June 28th , temperature in parts of New Delhi soared to 49.2 degrees Celsius.

At the same time, 29 provinces and cities in China have issued a total of 1,869 severe heat wave warnings (temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius), of which 857 were issued on the day of July 10.

According to the monitoring data of the National Climate Center, since June, there have been 5.3 national high temperature days, making it the most since 1961. During the Dog Days of this year, the highest temperature in Sichuan, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Hebei and other provinces exceeded 40°C.

According to the analysis of the National Climate Center, since the turn of the century, the large-scale and continuous high temperature years in the country are 2003, 2013, and 2017. In general, this year's high temperature days started earlier than the above-mentioned three years. In addition, the scope of influence and the highest temperature have exceeded those of 2003 and 2013.

How close are we to the 1.5°C limit?

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions has continued to climb. In order to address global climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Agreement came into effect on November 4, 2016. Currently, 193 parties have joined the Paris Agreement. For years, they have all worked towards the same goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C within this century, while seeking to limit it further down to 1.5°C.

However, according to a "Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C" released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on October 8, 2018, compared to 1900, the greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities have caused the average temperature to rise by more than 1.0°C. What's more, the IPCC estimates, with high confidence, that global warming will reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at this current rate.

Source: IPCC

The report also points out that being limited to a 1.5°C pathway is better for people and nature than 2°C. Specifically, with the global warming of 1.5°C pathway, climate-related risks will be much lower than that of a global warming of 2°C. The risks depend on multiple variables such as the magnitude and speed of warming, geographic location, level of development and vulnerability, and the selection and implementation of adaptation and mitigation methods.

Source: IPCC

To achieve this goal, global carbon emissions need to be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. The report also pointed out that in model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. To limit global warming below 2°C, anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 20% by 2030.

2030 is eight years away. This means that countries should undertake a more rapid and systematic transformation in multiple areas to achieve emission reduction. The mitigation actions can be classified into two ends - reducing carbon footprint from the supply side and the demand side. From the supply side, it is necessary to greatly increase the share of renewable energy such as wind power and photovoltaics in the power grid, thereby reducing dependence on fossil energy and reducing carbon emissions.

On the demand side, low-carbon solutions can be adopted in buildings, energy , agriculture, animal husbandry, industry, transportation and other industries in order to improve electrification rates, increase energy efficiency, and reduce energy consumption by changing human lifestyles. The two-pronged approach will better maximize the achievement of the goal of energy reduction.

For nearly three decades, the IPCC has been warning the world about global warming and the effects it brings to people. The current heatwave appears to have sounded the alarm for countries that are still producing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When people all around the world actually feel that climate change is real, then a qualitative change comes.