October 27, 2017

Sea levels to rise by up to 6 feet if coal usage continues, says report

Sea levels to rise by up to 6 feet if coal usage continues, says report

Global sea levels could rise by 6 feet by the end of this century as a result of climate change if fossil fuel consumption is not curbed, according to a report published yesterday.

For the study, researchers at the University of Melbourne analysed high resolution seafloor imaging to learn more about past sea level events, as well as using new modelling techniques to measure all known factors that contribute to sea level rise. The findings are used to present five long term scenarios predicting different potential outcomes for global society, energy supply, and the environment depending on future carbon emissions and energy policies.

The estimation of a 6 feet sea level rise by 2100 is the bleakest scenario, which would be the result of continued high fossil fuel consumption, strong economic growth worldwide, and little attempt to slow the pace of climate change. This figure is significantly worse than the previous worst case projection of just over 3 feet, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013, and would be disastrous for coastal cities around the world.

However, the study also suggests that devastation could be avoided if the emissions targets from the Paris climate agreement are achieved. If global temperatures are limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris agreement, sea level rise could be held at an average of 1.7 feet by 2100.

In order to drastically limit sea level rise to half a meter, the proportion of energy produced by coal would have to be reduced from 27% (2016 figures) to just 5% of total global consumption.

In an article for IZA World of Labor, Nico Pestel analyses the employment effects of “shift[ing] to a low-carbon green economy.” Pestel suggests that increasing renewable energy “may have a positive gross employment effect, creating additional green jobs, but it could also crowd out investment-induced employment in non-green sectors.” However the overall impact is limited, so “neither job creation nor job destruction are adequate arguments to put forward in the energy policy debate.”

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