Broken 1.5 degree target and catastrophic consequences: Climate experts used gloomy words to paint a picture for the future at the 13th Extreme Weather Congress in Hamburg. The opportunity to stabilize the climate system with relatively little effort was missed, it said in a statement on Wednesday at the start of the three-day conference. Climate change will now largely occur unchecked. Massive changes that can no longer be avoided can be expected on Earth.

At the same time, Tobias Fuchs, board member of the German Weather Service, emphasized: “It’s of little use to paint black and lose yourself in fantasies of doom.” This could paralyze the willingness of many people to get involved in climate protection. “We can’t bury our heads in the sand.” If we take the right measures now, global warming can be slowed down.

“We have to accept that the 1.5 degree limit will be exceeded. This means that the Paris Framework Agreement has effectively failed on this point,” said Jochem Marotzke, director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. “This also means that it will only be possible with enormous efforts to keep warming below the 2 degree limit.” We are currently on the way to a 3-degree world by the end of the century. “Social change is occurring too slowly,” emphasized the professor.

Warning from the EU Environment Agency EEA

Forest fires, heat waves, floods – 2023 had many extreme events. “Global air and water temperatures have never been as high as this year,” the congressional statement said. “Never before have heat records and forest fires reached such an extent as in 2023.”

The five to six degrees higher water temperatures in the Mediterranean region would have led to record levels of evaporation and subsequent precipitation in Europe and North Africa. “Due to the randomness in the chaotic system of the atmosphere, the extreme heat and drought phases that we experienced in southern Europe did not occur in Germany. It would have been possible.”

The EU environment agency EEA had already warned in late spring: “Due to our changing climate, the weather in Europe is becoming more extreme.” According to the authority, heat waves are becoming more frequent, more intense and longer lasting as a result of climate change. The summer of 2022 was already a “summer of heat waves”.

“We can all still see the terrible images of the storm disasters in Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and Libya,” said Fuchs. “International climate research agrees: Any further global warming will lead to a rapid increase in weather-related natural hazards.”

Preparing for the consequences of extreme weather

According to the German Weather Service, the annual mean temperature in Germany has risen by around 1.7 degrees since 1881. “Since 1960, every decade in this country has been warmer than the previous one,” said Fuchs. According to him, in the entire period from 1881 to 2022 it became 0.12 degrees warmer every decade; for the period from 1971 to 2022 the warming rate was already 0.38 degrees Celsius per decade.

According to Fuchs, people need to better prepare for the catastrophic consequences of extreme weather such as droughts, forest fires and floods. “If we now do everything we can to prepare for the unavoidable consequences of climate change, Germany can also be a country in 50 or 100 years that offers good living conditions to the people living here,” said Fuchs.

The German Meteorological Society suggested a solution: “We all have to make the products that are destroying the planet more expensive,” said chairman Frank Böttcher, who is also the organizer of the congress. “The products that preserve the planet must be cheaper.”