A new report by a global accounting firm announced Monday that businesses around the world are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of climate change and issued a warning, citing their extensive analyses of world economies, that global temperatures could rise by as much as 6ºC by the end of the century.
"This isn't about shock tactics, it's simple maths," said Leo Johnson, a partner at Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC), which conducted the economic study. "We're heading into uncharted territory for the scale of transformation and technical innovations required. Whatever the scenario, or the response, business as usual is not an option."
"It's time to plan for a warmer world … We have passed a critical threshold."
In 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that a rise in global temperatures of more than 2ºC would lead to catastrophic changes for planetary systems. Though binding agreements remain elusive, most of the world's nations have agreed—at least in principle—that preventing a more than 2ºC rise should be a key target to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
The PwC report, however, says that limiting global warming to 2ºC would now mean reducing global carbon intensity by an average of 5.1% a year – a performance never achieved since 1950, when these records began. The report warns that "governments and businesses can no longer assume that a 2ºC warming world is the default scenario."
"While we've reversed the increase in emissions intensity reported last year we're still seeing results that are simply too little too late," said Johnson. "We've now got to achieve, for the next 39 years running, a target we've never achieved before."
"It's time to plan for a warmer world… We have passed a critical threshold," he said.
Words like resilience, decarbonization and sustainability have long been key words among environmental campaigners and scientists warning about the current and coming impacts of human-induced global warming and climate change. The PwC report, now, puts some of those same words into the vocabularies of some of the the world's largest financial planners.
"The risk to business is that it faces more unpredictable and extreme weather, and disruptions to market and supply chains," said Jonathan Grant, director of the PwC's sustainability and climate change program. "Resilience will become a watch word in the boardroom - to policy responses as well as to the climate. More radical and disruptive policy reactions in the medium term could lead to high carbon assets being stranded."
"The new reality is a much more challenging future in terms of planning, financing and predictability. Even doubling our current annual rates of decarbonization globally every year to 2050, would still lead to 6ºC, making governments' ambitions to limit warming to 2ºC appear highly unrealistic."
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