Limiting the rise in temperatures is likely to create economic recession, an environmental expert has warned.
Adapting to climate change could have profound repercussions across all parts of society, Professor Kevin Anderson told a Stormont meeting.
His talk was organised by Friends of the Earth.
Professor Anderson said: “Whilst orthodox expertise maintains two degrees centigrade is not only possible but achievable without sacrificing the benefits of economic growth and rising prosperity, it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with two, three and increasingly four degrees centigrade futures.”
He said such a fundamental transition left several clear choices.
“To continue the delusion that climate change can be addressed adequately through rhetoric, financial fine-tuning and piecemeal incrementalism; to interpret such conclusions as a message of despair and futility; or to acknowledge that at every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different, and that through immediate harnessing of human will and ingenuity we can yet deliver relatively low-carbon and climate-resilient communities.”
The academic is Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester and deputy director at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
According to the university`s website, his research on carbon budgets (five-year restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions) has been pivotal in revealing a widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions.
“His work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary,” it added.
“Moreover, Kevin`s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.”
The Executive’s strategy in combating climate change has focused on encouraging use of renewable energies like solar and biomass through subsidies to replace fossil fuels which contribute to global warming.
A marine current turbine has been installed at the Narrows in Strangford Lough and there are plans for more wind farms.
According to the environment department, the target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 by 35% from 1990 levels. Last year’s projection was for a 30% reduction by 2025.
A progress report said: “Some of the consequences of climate change are now unavoidable and there is a clear need to take action to minimise negative impacts and maximise the opportunities provided by the more positive impacts.”