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Scientists predict 90% chance Earth will be heated to ‘tipping point’ for climate change

Global warming has a 90% chance of heating the Earth to a tipping point, after which there may be no escape from destructive climate change, a study suggests.

The new prediction warns of temperatures rising 2C to 4.9C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, despite measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A rise of 2C has frequently been cited as a “tipping point” that must be avoided to prevent runaway effects leading to widespread drought, extreme weather and dangerous increases in sea level.

The same analysis shows a mere 1% chance of global warming being pegged at or below 1.5C, the target set by countries signing the Paris Agreement last year.

Dr Dargan Frierson, from the University of Washington, said: “Countries argued for the 1.5C target because of the severe impacts on their livelihoods that would result from exceeding that threshold. Indeed, damages from heat extremes, drought, extreme weather and sea level rise will be much more severe if 2C or higher temperature rise is allowed.

“Our results show that an abrupt change of course is needed to achieve these goals.”

The scientists looked at 50 years of data on world population and economic activity to come up with their forecast. One factor taken into account was “carbon intensity”, the amount of carbon emitted for each dollar of economic activity.

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