Global warming: France’s adaptation strategy must also take into account a “pessimistic” scenario at +4°C, argues Christophe Béchu

“It’s essential to raise awareness.” In order for France to best adapt to global warming caused by human activities, Christophe Béchu, the Minister for Ecological Transition, defends the consideration of two scenarios. One holds that temperatures will rise by 2°C in 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels, the other an increase of 4°C. He made it known on Monday 30 January, during a conference organized by France Stratégie and entitled “Adaptation to climate change in the territories : how to move forward ?”

The Paris agreement ideally aims for global warming of +1.5°C, at worst +2°C. “We can’t deviate from that, because we have to continue to explain that the ambition is good to go towards that. We can’t capitulate”insisted the minister, before qualifying : “But when we see the recent projections of the IPCC [Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat]when we read the studies, we realize that there are hypotheses where we are at +4°C and this requires that we model this trajectory.”

Christophe Béchu defends “two scenarios in our coping strategy : an optimistic scenario and a pessimistic scenario – whatever you want to call them -, which generally revolve around +2°C and +4°C”. According to him, such a choice is “essential so that there is no maladaptation and so that, in all the decisions we make, from now on, we integrate these elements into our models”.

The objective of the Paris agreement out of reach ?

While the policies currently being implemented on a planetary scale are leading us towards a global warming of +2.8°C, according to the UN, the situation risks being much worse for France. Scientists from Météo France and the CNRS announced in October that global warming could lead to an increase in the average temperature in France of 3.8°C in 2100. “Compared to previous estimates, this represents an upward revision of up to 50%explained Aurélien Ribes, lead author of the study. Recent observations suggest that France has warmed and will continue to warm further, and faster than previously thought.”

The objective of +1.5°C set by the Paris agreement is “completely out of reach”, had estimated, in November, an IPCC rapporteur, François Gemenne. This objective was threatened before COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt). It was finally reaffirmed at the end of COP27, but no new means were mentioned to strengthen the fulfillment of this commitment. Countries that deviate from it are invited, without any real vigor, to update their greenhouse gas reduction targets by the end of 2023.

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