TORONTO – Younger generations will be more severely threatened by climate change and extreme weather events than older generations, says a climate study that highlights disparities in intergenerational exposure to climate extremes.
Study published last week in the journal Science, says that under global warming, extreme events such as heat waves “will continue to increase in frequency, intensity, duration and spatial extent over the next decades”, meaning that younger generations will experience far more of them.
The study estimates that under current climate policy pledges, children born in 2020 will experience two to seven times more extreme weather events, particularly heat waves, than those born in 1960.
“Our results highlight a serious threat to the safety of younger generations and call for massive emissions reductions to safeguard their future,” say the study authors.
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Canada, along with the US and Europe, raised greenhouse gas emissions targets ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
Canada announced in July that it was raising its goal to cut its emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
A UN report released in September said current pledges to reduce emissions would still result in 16 percent more in 2030, with global warming approaching 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.
The Paris Agreement, which was signed by Canada, was ratified around the goal of keeping global warming around 1.5 C to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The study says the land area affected by heat waves will increase from 15 percent to 22 percent by 2100, with the Paris Agreement aiming to limit warming to 1.5C, but that figure rises to 46 percent when nations In line with current emissions reduction promises.
When examining how younger generations will cope with global warming and an increase in extreme events, the study drew on life-expectancy data from different countries, climate models of extreme weather event projections, and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Combined future global temperature trajectories. ) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C.
The results allowed the researchers to examine lifetime exposure to climate extremes globally – or across generations – at birth.
One example cited in the study is that a person born in 1960 will experience an average of two to four heat waves (defined by the study’s extreme heat wave classification) throughout their lifetime.
However, a baby born in 2020 will experience around nine to 30 heat waves, with current climate pledges being respected. The study authors say that number drops to seven to 22 heat waves if warming is limited to 2 C, or eight to 18 heat waves, if pledges are to limit the Paris Agreement target to 1.5 C. Follows the goal.
The study authors applied their approach to other extreme events they analyzed – such as wildfires, crop failures, droughts, river floods, heat waves and tropical cyclones – generating a total of 273 global-scale estimates. .
“Our results highlight that the lifetime exposure to each of the extreme events increases steadily for higher warming levels and younger ages. [generations],” says the study.
If global warming increases by 3C, study estimates that six-year-olds will suffer twice as many wildfires and tropical cyclones, three times more river floods, four times more crop failures, five times more droughts in 2020, the study estimates. And there will be 36 times more experience. Heat waves compared to someone born in the 1960s.
The study said that under the 3C global warming simulation, children under the age of eight would face a “nearly five-fold” increase, even in extreme weather.
The study also analyzed which global regions were at peak risk, with an average of at least seven times higher risk for all generations under the age of 25, with “particularly strong” increases in the Middle East and North Africa. The greatest increase will be seen in exposure to climate events. 2020 under current emissions reduction pledges.
The study said its findings “highlight the strong benefits” of countries following the Paris Agreement’s emissions targets in order to “protect the future of current younger generations”.