London: Capping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) will save thousands of lives by reducing the frequency of extreme heatwaves, according to a landmark study.
The risks posed by “extreme high temperatures” can be significantly lowered by reducing temperature rises by only a half a degree, according to the study published Thursday in “Science Advances.” Meeting climate goals outlined by the Paris Agreement could help avoid events like the 2003 European heatwave, which resulted in some 20,000 deaths.
The 2015 accord signed by almost 200 countries committed them to keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. With current trajectories pointing toward warming of 3 degrees Celsius, urgency is building to take the steps necessary to avoid the superstorms, droughts and famine predicted as a result of runaway climate change.
The researchers, who focused on 15 US cities including Boston, Los Angeles and New York, concluded that as many as 2,720 annual heat-related lives per city would be saved under a 1.5 degree warming scenario, compared with 1,980 if the world hits 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
The “results provide compelling evidence for the heat-related benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the US,” the researchers wrote. “Strengthened mitigation ambition would result in substantial benefits to public health in the United States.”
President Donald Trump has promised to leave the Paris Agreement, threatening to upset global efforts to tackle climate change. For now the country still has a seat at the negotiating table as the earliest the US can withdraw from the accord is November 2020, near the end of Trump’s current term.
Global climate diplomacy is set to kick into action this month with key talks being held in Bonn ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Summit in September. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has taken a leading role in encouraging countries to turn up to the summit with solid plans to increase climate ambition. –Bloomberg
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