1.2.1 Why do we need to mitigate climate change?

Course subject(s) 1. Climate change and the energy transition

In video two for this module we will be looking into the impacts that climate change will have on the globe. The magnitude of these impacts illustrates why climate action is imperative.

Small correction: Although the video states the definition of NDC is Nationally Determined Commitment, the true meaning of the acronym NDC is Nationally Determined Contribution

Key takeaways:

  • Global warming will have many devastating impacts on the planet
  • The Paris Climate Agreement is a global agreement between countries which aims to limit temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels
  • If all countries fulfil their nationally determined contributions, the global temperature is still expected to increase by 3 °C. Current efforts are therefore not enough

Good news from Glasgow!

As discussed in the video, the current policies are not enough to reach a target “well below 2 °C”. Therefore, one of the agreements in Paris, 2015, was that every five years all countries would be asked to submit more stringent commitments: more ambitious NDCs. For the first time, this happened in advance of the 2021 meeting in Glasgow, held in November 2021 – (after a one year delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic).

The outcomes are promising. Whereas current policies bring us on a pathway that will lead to a global temperature increase in 2100 of just slightly below 3 °C, the new commitments for the year 2030 bring us to a pathway leading to a global increase of 2.4 °C in 2100. Next to that, many countries have pledged to reach climate neutrality or CO2 neutrality in the course of this century, e.g. in 2050 or 2060. If we take all these pledges together, a temperature increase close to 2 °C could be reached. All this still needs to be translated to concrete action, but at least it is a start.

And of course, this close-to-2°C is still not good enough, and countries are asked to come with more ambitious NDCs before the next meeting, the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27), to be held in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, in Egypt.

For more information, see the website of the Climate Action Tracker and especially the CAT thermometer. This website also gives a good overview of the uncertainties involved.

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Designing a Climate-Neutral World: An Introduction by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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