• In the absence of all the climate policies and lack of fulfillment of the commitments, the earth’s temperature is expected to reach 4.1 – 4.8 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level by 2100, which will result in an actual catastrophic situation.
  • With the current policies adopted, the global temperature will increase to 2.8 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial era.
  • Ignoring the accords and agreements to mitigate climate change will lead to severe consequences such as severe droughts, intense heat waves, unprecedented wildfires, malnutrition, hunger, and floods, probably leading to an end. 

There are no exact answers to this question. There are possibilities, predictions, and projections that entirely depend upon the paths that we, as the inhabitants of this planet, embrace in the years to come. 

We are in that phase where our planet has been giving symptoms of inevitable change from everywhere. 

Accelerated global warming, annual heatwaves, rising sea level, changing precipitation, frequent natural calamities, and flux in weather patterns say it all.

Several other changes are on their way. Our generation will witness and suffer the consequences of these changes.

According to World Meteorological Organization, 2011-2020 was the warmest decade, 2020 being one of the three warmest years ever recorded. With a prior year, 2021, being the 7th hottest year on records, who knows what 2022 holds!

Today we are witnessing warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius, resulting in unprecedented extreme weather events in every region and continent.

A fatal temperature rise of 3-5 degrees Celsius awaits us this century. Experts believe that the global heating of 4oC is a real possibility that drastically shifts the way of living. 

Reconciliation with nature is the decisive challenge of the 21st century and should be a top priority for everyone everywhere.

There are many people, nations, and organizations engaged from local to global levels to create a better future for our descendants to live a peaceful life on earth. 

Agenda 21 was the first report of The Rio Declaration 1992 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development to set a plan of action for a sustainable future. 

Later Kyoto Protocol operationalized the UN Framework Conference of Climate Change to reduce and limit GHG emissions by their agreed targets. 

Paris Agreement, 2015 was the first legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 parties at COP21 in Paris on 12th December 2015. Several other commitments have been made, and targets have been set at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

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Possibilities of Temperature Rise according to action plans | Picture Credit: Climate Action Tracker

What changes the future holds for humanity to witness in the 21st century?  

The degree of global warming depends upon the path we embrace with our GHG emissions. The major constraint that will shape the face of our planet is the limitations that we put on ourselves. 

We can predict two possibilities depending upon the kind of control we can maintain. One is the pessimistic view of continuing on the same path of irresponsibilities, while the other is an optimistic viewpoint with a total course correction.

1. Worst Scenario: Rise of 4 degrees Celsius above preindustrial era

fire_hazard_of_amazon_contributing_temperature_rise
The ecological disaster of fire in Amazon| Picture Credit: Marcos Osorio

In the absence of all the climate policies and lack of fulfillment of the commitments, the earth’s temperature is expected to reach 4.1 – 4.8 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level by 2100. This rise will result in an actual catastrophic situation.

We must control the emission of Green House Gases to reduce the effects of accelerating global warming. 

Ignoring the accords and agreements to mitigate climate change will lead to severe consequences such as biodiversity loss, severe droughts, intense heat waves, unprecedented wildfires, malnutrition, hunger, floods, increased sea levels, and many more. 

2. Current Climate Policies and Actions: 3 degrees Celsius rise

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Water Crisis due to global Warming | Picture Credit: John Stocker

Climate scientists have warned world leaders and governments, but the efforts are not enough. With the current policies adopted, the global temperature will increase to 2.8 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial era. This temperature is twice the temperature rise recommended by IPCC.

The gaps between the commitments made and the actions are vast, creating a piece of misleading information about the actual conditions. 

This scenario also leads to a fatal condition with extreme changes in weather patterns, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, floods, droughts, forest fires, etc.

3. Solutions: Towards 2 degrees Celsius rise

flooded_village
Flooded village | Picture Credit: Bilanol

Paris Accord 2015 concluded to limit the planet’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and continue the ongoing efforts to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius benchmark. 

The signatories made commitments through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Agreements aside, 2021 was recorded as one of the hottest seven years.

According to WMO, The average global temperature in 2021 was already 1.11 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial era.

The WMO reported the warmest seven years since 2015; 2016, 2019, and 2020 were on the top of the list. 2021 reached a record-shattering temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in Canada.

The inefficient process and signed agreements result in record-breaking temperatures being recorded yearly.

The targets are not always met. In this case, failure to meet the goals set will have terrible consequences of extreme heat waves and unprecedented calamities exposure. 

4. The desirable scenario: 1.5 degrees Celsius rise

The most optimistic scenario we can wish is limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial era. 

This scenario urges for a rapid reduction in the emission of GHGs in the years and decades to come. Finally, limiting the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius around mid-century will keep us on the safer side. 

Following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030 Agenda), commitments of COP26, Paris Agreement 2015, we should strive to limit the 1.5 degrees Celsius benchmark by 2050.

Comparison of Possibilities

ScenariosTemperature Rise (oC)ConsequencesMajor Solutions
Worst Scenario: 4 degrees Celsius rise4.1-4.8Increase in sea levels (80 cm), flooding in coastal cities, the disappearance of territories, Unprecedented heat waves, severe droughts, malnutrition, hunger, and many more1. Reduction in emission of Green House Gases

2. Promote the use of renewable energy
Current actions : 3 degrees Celsius rise2.8An increase in sea levels (60 cm), submerging cities in water (275 million people living in those areas at risk), Biodiversity loss3. Sustainable development

4. Planting trees
SolutionTowards: 2 degrees Celsius 2Sea level rise (46 cm), Extreme heatwaves, Ice caps melt

5. Green Recovery, Improve food production

6. Waste management
Desirable scenario: 1.5 degrees Celsius limit1.5Change is precipitation, seasons7. Replace fossil fuels with renewable resources

8. Transitioning to carbon-free energy
possibility_comparision_of_warming
Comparison of possibilities; more red, more vulnerable| Picture Credit: Cool Worlds

This picture depicts the possibility of a temperature rise on earth. The left one shows the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, while the right shows the worst condition of 4 degrees Celcius.

How will the temperature of our planet increase, and what does the future hold for humanity? The answer depends on the path we take. The control we keep on our activities. 

The limitation we put on the emission of Green House gases will determine the future. Will we head towards sustainability or fatality?


The answer depends on our activities. If we remain accurate to ourselves and responsible for our future generations, it is not impossible to attain the 1.5 degrees Celcius limitation. 

It’s us as humans, communities, nations, and a tribe who can determine the future of our planet. Let’s not make 2100 the end, but rather a new possible beginning of a greener earth.

We must be faithful to mother earth and our commitments to create a better world for future generations. 

Let’s make an effort to head towards sustainability. A small step can create a big difference, and you are never too small to make an effort!

(Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Suraksha Pal is an Industrial Engineer currently pursuing my master’s degree in Renewable Energy Engineering at the Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus. She has a keen interest in Renewable Energy and is passionate about sustainable development. She loves to express her views on these subjects through articles and blogs.