Sep 28, 2022 - Energy & Environment

The drought dangers of blowing past Paris

Photo illustration of a dried out section of Lake Mead with a cotton plant and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Breaching Paris Agreement temperature goals will greatly boost the odds of long-term, destructive droughts on multiple continents and varying types of ecosystems, a peer-reviewed study finds.

Driving the news: New analysis in Climatic Change projects links between drought and warming in China, India, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil and Ghana.

  • Researchers with the U.K'.s University of East Anglia assessed the risks of droughts of one year or longer in a 30-year period under multiple warming scenarios.
  • They range from limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the most ambitious Paris goal — all the way to catastrophic warming of 4°C.

Why it matters: Even in a 1.5°C scenario drought grows considerably — and the world is on track for much more warming absent radical emissions cuts.

  • But the odds of bad drought rise with more warming. For instance, in a 3°C world, more than half the agricultural land in each nation analyzed is projected to have severe drought in a 30-year stretch.
  • It sees 80%-100% of people in Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana, and nearly 50% of Indian residents, exposed to severe drought lasting at least a year or longer in a 30-year period.

Read the study.

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