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emissions have continued to rise. and if we focus on our historical emission


trend in recent years,
and we put that together with our understanding of the direction of travel in
our global economy,
then we are much more on track for a four-degree centigrade global
warming
than we are for the two-degree centigrade.
Emissions still rise and if we concentrate on our emission trend lately.
now let's just pause for a moment
and think about this four-degree global average temperature.
most of our planet is actually made up of the sea.
now because the sea has a greater thermal inertia than the land,
the average temperature over land are actually going to be higher
than they are over the sea.
the second thing is that we as human beings don't experience
global average temperatures.
we experience hot days, cold days, rainy days, especially if you live in
Manchester like me.
so now put yourself in a city center.
imagine somewhere in the world:
Mumbai, Beijing, New York, London.
it's the hottest day that you've ever experienced.
there's sun beating down,
there's concrete and glass all around you.
now imagine that same day but it's six, eight, maybe 10 to 12 degrees
warmer
on that day during that heat wave.
that's the kind of thing we're going to experience
under a four-degree global average temperature scenario.
and the problem with these extremes, and not just the temperature
extremes,
but also the extremes in terms of storms and other climate impacts,
is our infrastructure is just not set up to deal with these sorts of events.
so our roads and our rail networks have been designed to last for a long
time

and withstand only certain amounts of impacts in different parts of the


world.
and this is going to be extremely challenged.
our power stations are expected to be cooled by water to a certain
temperature to remain effective and resilient.
and our buildings are designed to be comfortable
within a particular temperature range.
and this is all going to be significantly challenged
under a four-degree-type scenario.
our infrastructure has not been designed to cope with this.
so if we go back, also thinking about four degrees, it's not just the direct
impacts,
but also some indirect impacts.
so if we take food security, for example.
maize and wheat yields in some parts of the world
are expected to be up to 40 percent lower
under a four-degree scenario,
rice up tom30 percent lower.
this will be absolutely devastating for global food security.
so all in all, the kinds of impacts anticipated under this four-degree
centigrade scenario
are going to be incompatible with global organized living.
so back to our trajectories and our graphs of four degrees and two degrees.
is it reasonable still to focus on the two-degree path?
there are quite a lot of my colleagues and other scientists
who would say that it's now too late to avoid a two-degree warming.
but I would just like to draw on my own research on energy systems, on food
systems,
aviation and also shipping,
just to say that I think there is still a small fighting chance
of avoiding this two-degree dangerous climate change.
but we really need to get to grips with the numbers to work out how to do it.
so if you focus in on this trajectory and these graphs,
the yellow circle there highlights that the departure
from the red four-degree pathway

to the two-degree green pathway is immediate.


and that's because of cumulative emissions,
or the carbon budget.
so in other words, because of the lights and the projectors
that are on in this room right now,
the CO2 that is going into our atmosphere
as a result of that electricity consumption
lasts a very long time.
some of it will be in our atmosphere for a century, maybe much longer.
it will accumulate, and greenhouse gases tend to be cumulative.
and that tells us something about these trajectories.
first of all, it tell us that it's the area under these curves that matter,
not where we reach at a particular date in future.
and that's important, because it doesn't matter if we come up with some
amazing
whiz-bang technology to sort out our energy problem on the last day of
2049,
just in the nick of time to sort things out.
because in the meantime, emissions will have accumulated.
so if we continue on this red, four-degree centigrade scenario pathway,
the longer we continue on it,
that will need to be made up for in later years
to keep the same carbon budget, to keep the same area under the curve,
which means that that trajectory,
the red one there, becomes steeper.
so in other words, if we don't reduce emissions in the short to medium term,
then we'll have to make more significant year-on-year emission reductions.