The Paris Agreement:Part 2

In the first part of this two part blog we looked at the outcomes of COP21 and the Paris Agreement which was adopted by 195 nations on the 12th of December. If you have not already read it, that article can be found here.

This time I will be looking at what impacts in terms of flooding and water supply we could expect the predicted increase in the average annual global temperatures to have on the UK water industry.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) which monitors the actions and global efforts of 32 nations towards reaching the globally agreed aim of holding warming below 2˚C, have suggested that the current Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which have been submitted, are only enough to keep the annual global mean temperature increase below +2.7˚C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 (the red range below).

The graph below shows the estimated 2100 temperature ranges based on different greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

  • The red range is based on the current global pledges and INDCs, the CAT predict with these pledges the annual global mean temperature will reach between +2.4˚C and +2.7˚C above pre-industrial levels.
  • If the current national policies were continued it has been estimated that this range would increase to between +3.3˚C and +3.9˚C by 2100 (blue).
  • Finally, by way of comparison the grey range is based on 5%-95% percentile of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR5 WGIII scenarios in concentration category 7 (based on CO2e concentration of greater than 1000ppm by 2100).

While this ‘baseline’ category is extremely unlikely, it is an interesting exercise to examine what is essentially the worst case impact. It is also worth pointing out that agreement in Paris does not necessarily deliver a successful outcome , it will very much be the case of watching how things develop. However if no change were made to climate policy, it has been estimated that nearly half of the world’s 60 largest economies will face a serious risk of water shortages. Where choices have to be made there may ulitmately be a conflict in demand between agriculture and energy since they are the two most water intensive industries.


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