Politics – The Single Most Important Factor in Limiting Global Warming


The costs of delays outweigh any potential benefits of waiting for further scientific research into the mechanisms of climate change.

A new analysis finds that swift action by politicians is the single most important factor in limiting global warming. The costs of delays outweigh any possible benefits of waiting for more scientific research into the mechanisms of climate change.

The scientists published their findings in two studies in the journal Nature. This contradicts claims by governments stating that they should delay action on climate change until there is more scientific evidence. Speeding up action could also lead to significant cost savings.

Joeri Rogelj, a climate-policy analyst at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, and his colleagues assessed the relative importance of the uncertainty in limiting the rise in global temperatures¹. The researchers compared emissions and costs in more than 500 different scenarios. They revealed that the timing of global action will have the greatest effect on whether the world meets given climate targets, like keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2˚C (3.6˚F) above pre-industrial levels.

The results render scientific uncertainties almost irrelevant to meet the 2˚C target, states Rogelj. In December 2011, 195 countries pledged that by 2015 they would set targets to reduce emissions starting in 2020. If this is what is going to happen, there is a 56% chance of keeping the temperature increase below 2˚C². Delaying any action until 2025 would decrease that chance to 34%. Starting in 2015 would improve the odds to 60%. This would also make any action cheaper.


“Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation” by Joeri Rogelj, David L. McCollum, Andy Reisinger, Malte Meinshausen and Keywan Riahi, 2 January 2013, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/nature11787

“All in the timing” by Steve Hatfield-Dodds, 2 January 2013, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/493035a

4 Comments on "Politics – The Single Most Important Factor in Limiting Global Warming"

  1. How about waiting until it is proven that 1) global warming happens and (more importantly) 2) that humans have caused such alleged global warming. At least one other report states that global warming stopped 16 years ago.

  2. Stop 3rd worlders from breeding uncontrollably… that should be “THE” top priority for stopping human caused climatic changes… How much coal does China burn ?How many trees are burned to clear the Amazon?Why no pollution controls in India?…

  3. First of all – thanks for giving the issue a platform on nature (twice!) and here! But nevertheless, what was found out is basically common knowledge, isn’t it? Starting a counteraction earlier for a process that has a memory is of course beneficial…

  4. What a horribly disingenuous picture. Having that picture makes as much sense as having a massively large pile of paper debris as causing global warming.

    No, the title is inaccurate. It’s more like politics the number one cause for believing there is global warming, since the idea for it is purely being pushed by politicians – actual politicians and politicians posing as scientists. Just look at the largest and most ardent forefront group pushing this: the IPCC at the United Nations. You can’t get more political than that. And to drive home the fact that all global warming is about politics:

    “The common enemy of humanity is man.
    In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up
    with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming,
    water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these
    dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through
    changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome.
    The real enemy then, is humanity itself.“
    – Club of Rome,
    premier environmental think-tank,
    consultants to the United Nations

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the
    industrialized civilizations collapse?
    Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?”
    – Maurice Strong,
    founder of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

    Notice they are not saying a scientific discovery is what led them to put forth the idea of global warming, but only for PURELY political reasons. Science is NOT part of it, but is used as a lie to disguise the political purpose of it.

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