Sea levels set to keep rising for centuries even if emissions targets met

(The Guardian, 6 Nov 2019) Generations yet unborn will face rising oceans and coastal inundations into the 2300s even if governments meet climate commitments, researchers find.

Sea level rise is set to challenge human civilization for centuries to come, even if internationally agreed climate goals are met and planet-warming emissions are then immediately eliminated, researchers have found.

The lag time between rising global temperatures and the knock-on impact of coastal inundation means that the world will be dealing with ever-rising sea levels into the 2300s, regardless of prompt action to address the climate crisis, according to the new study.

Even if governments meet their commitments from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, the first 15-year period of the deal will still result in enough emissions that would cause sea levels to increase by around 20cm by the year 2300.

This scenario, modeled by researchers, assumes that all countries make their promised emissions reductions by 2030 and then abruptly eliminate all planet-warming gases from that point onwards. In reality, only a small number of countries are on track to meet the Paris target of limiting global heating to 2C above the pre-industrial era.

“Even with the Paris pledges there will be a large amount of sea level rise,” said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University climate scientist and co-author of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The Guardian, 6 Nov 2019: Sea levels set to keep rising for centuries even if emissions targets met