Climate experts paint dire future for planet – businesses beware

A survey by UK newspaper The Guardian has delivered a very dire prognosis on the future of the planet and its efforts to limit global warming.

The survey asked hundreds of the world’s leading climate experts where they  thought global warming could be restricted to. Given the Paris Agreement target was a rise of 1.5C.

It is very apparent that doors has firmly closed as 77% of respondents believe global temperatures will reach at least 2.5C above pre-industrial levels.  Almost half, 42%, think it will be more than 3C.

Indeed only 6% think the 1.5C limit will be achieved.

All the respondents were part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), so they have a real insight into where the world is heading.

Many of the scientists told the newspaper they envisage a “semi-dystopian” future, with famines, conflicts and mass migration, driven by heatwaves, wildfires, floods and storms of an intensity and frequency far beyond those that have already struck.

“I think we are headed for major societal disruption within the next five years,” said Gretta Pecl, at the University of Tasmania told the Guardian. “[Authorities] will be overwhelmed by extreme event after extreme event, food production will be disrupted. I could not feel greater despair over the future.”

It leaves the business community with a major fight on its hands and comes in the week that a new study wrned that 70% of the vital minerals needed to drive the switch to a net zero future are under threat from heatwaves and drought.

The report, by PwC, which analysed nine commodities across critical minerals (copper, cobalt, lithium), key crops (wheat, rice, maize) and vital metals (zinc, iron, aluminium), found that although reducing emissions will decrease heat and drought risks, key commodities will still face significant stress, even under a low emissions scenario modelled by PwC.

According to the analysis, even if global carbon emissions rapidly decrease (low emissions scenario), 87% of the world’s rice production, more than 70% of cobalt and lithium production, and around 60% of the world’s bauxite and iron production will be at risk by 2050.

For insurers and reinsurers the predictions provide a huge headache. They are built on the management and mitigation if risk. However, the world’s top climate scientist  predict that natural perils will develop to a level that even now would be viewed as black swan events.

The experts said massive preparations to protect people from the worst of the coming climate disasters were now critical. Leticia Cotrim da Cunha, at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said: “I am extremely worried about the costs in human lives.”

The survey added 1.5C target was chosen to prevent the worst of the climate crisis and has been seen as an important guiding star for international negotiations. Current climate policies mean the world is on track for about 2.7C, and the Guardian survey shows few IPCC experts expect the world to deliver the huge action required to reduce that.

Jon Guy,

Editor, Emerging Risks