The world will likely achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting average global temperature rise to “well below 2°C”, finds a new forecast of global climate policies published today by the Inevitable Policy Response (IPR), a consortium of climate policy experts. 

Thanks to an acceleration of policies to curb global warming, the IPR predicts that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will fall 80% by 2050 and reach net zero by 2080, with warming peaking at 1.7–1.8°C around the year 2050, before declining below 1.7°C by the end of the century.

The report notes that this is a “more optimistic future than many anticipate”, given that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and UN reports have suggested we are on track for around 2.4–2.8°C of warming by the end of the century, based on current pledges and policies. 

The IPR forecast is driven by live-tracking more than 250 climate policies that have been announced over the past two years, along with input from more than 100 climate policy experts. Among its key policy predictions are that China will retire 60% of its coal fleet by 2045, with the remainder fitted with carbon capture and storage or kept in reserve; global net deforestation will end by 2035; and Europe, China, India and the US will have all stopped selling combustion engine vehicles by 2040.  

Unlike other forecasts, such as those from the International Energy Agency or IPCC, which work “backwards from a hypothetical outcome”, the IPR’s findings are driven by a “high-conviction forecast” of likely policy developments and their impact on GHG emissions and temperature. 

Although its global temperature forecast of “well below 2°C” by the end of the century appears optimistic compared with other forecasts, the IPR remains “significantly more pessimistic than most” about the severity of climate-related impacts in a well-below 2°C world. “Social climate tipping points” – likely moving dramatically faster than “physical climate tipping points” – will fuel conflict for resources and land, and there will be mass movements of people as places become effectively uninhabitable, it says.

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The world is not on track to limit warming to the Paris Agreement’s lower target of 1.5°C, the IPR notes. Just 3% of global policies – based on their relative importance to emissions – are currently on track to this target. 

The IPR reiterates the UN Environment Programme’s 2022 Emissions Gap report warning that “warming in excess of the 1.5°C lower limit of the Paris Agreement would increase systemic risks, including irreversible impacts on natural systems”. 

In response to the 1.8°C forecast, Jakob Thomä, project director at the IPR, said in a press statement:

“While there is a long road to Paris, we are now well under way. The pessimism about missing 1.5°C… should not overshadow the fact that policy acceleration over the past 2 years increasingly highlights the central climate outcome is now 1.8°C warming.”

“[There is] no time for complacency, but perhaps time for some optimism relative to previous temperature projections,” he added, albeit pointing to “growing evidence of the systemic risk that comes with overshooting 1.5°C”.