Club of Rome sees 2 degree Celsius rise in 40 years

LONDON Tue May 8, 2012 3:11pm BST

Rollerbladers skate past fishermen sitting in the shade as they seek relief from high temperatures by Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, July 18, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Miller

Rollerbladers skate past fishermen sitting in the shade as they seek relief from high temperatures by Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, July 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Miller

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rising carbon dioxide emissions will cause a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius by 2052 and a 2.8 degree rise by 2080, as governments and markets are unlikely to do enough against climate change, the Club of Rome think tank said.

Failing to tackle climate change in the first half of this century will put the world on a dangerous track to warming in the second half, even though global population should peak in 2042 at 8.1 billion and economic growth will be much slower than expected in mature economies, the Switzerland-based body said in a report on Tuesday.

"It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate-friendly solutions, and (we) must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind," said Jorgen Randers, author of the report and professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian School of Management.

"We are emitting twice as much greenhouse gases every year as are absorbed by the world's forests and oceans. This overshoot will worsen and will peak in 2030."

The Club of Rome, whose members include political and business figures and scientists, analyses problems such as limits to economic growth, resource pressure and employment.

Two climate scientists said on Tuesday the report's findings seemed "in the right ballpark" and the organization was respected in particular since a report in the 1970s on limits to growth triggered considerable public attention.

Research last month by the University of Oxford and Princeton University said global warming was likely to be between 1.4 and 3 degrees by 2050, but that 3 degrees was at the upper end of what was likely.

CONSUMPTION

In 2010, countries agreed that deep emissions cuts had to be made to keep an increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century.

Scientists say that crossing the threshold risks an unstable climate in which weather extremes are common but efforts so far to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not seen as sufficient to stop a rise beyond 2 degrees this century.

By 2052, China's per capita consumption will be at least two thirds that of the United States, while the average economic growth of 14 emerging nations including Brazil, India and South Africa, will treble over the next 40 years, Randers said.

"This growth will improve living standards for many, but it will come at a cost for the global climate. While growth will not be as explosive as in China, it will still be heavy enough to keep emissions from these nations growing until the 2040s," he added.

By contrast, the mature economies of the United States and Europe will see declining or stable consumption, which should help prevent the depletion of oil, food and water by 2052.

Last year, the United Nations' Environment Program said the gap between countries' emissions cut pledges and what was needed to remain under 2 degrees had widened and emissions in 2020 would rise to between 6 billion and 11 billion tons over what is needed to limit global warming to safe levels.

The International Energy Agency also warned that the world may not be able to limit temperature rise if new international climate action is not taken by 2017 as so many fossil fuel power plants and factories are being built.

A new global climate pact forcing the world's biggest polluters, including the United States and China, to curb emissions will only be agreed on by 2015 - to enter into force by 2020 - seen by many as too late to limit climate damage.

Countries have agreed to raise $10 billion a year in aid from 2010-12 to help developing nations adapt to climate change, rising to $100 billion a year by 2020.

But the economic downturn has constrained government funds, and carbon markets, which should incentivize clean energy investment in the private sector, are failing to deliver.

(Editing by Anthony Barker)

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