Humans have already caused 1.2 degrees of global heating. If you just think about the number, it may be difficult to appreciate how enormous a change that is. After all, many of us wouldn’t notice if it was 17 or 18 degrees on a mild spring day. 

But when it comes to the average temperature of the planet, fractional increases of 1, 1.5 or 2 degrees have the power to dramatically alter the conditions that keep our climate stable. In the video below, we explore some of the effects on the planet, people and biodiversity.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Explore these impact maps to see what happens at different levels of global heating, if the world’s high polluting nations fail to urgently cut their carbon emissions. Many of these disastrous effects are already unfolding – as seen in the flooding in Germany, deadly heatwaves across north America and Asia and famine in Madagascar this year.  

It’s not too late to limit global heating

The Paris Agreement, which was drawn up at COP21 in 2016, commits governments to limiting global heating to 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. But as recent research published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows, even going beyond 1.5 degrees will be catastrophic.  

COP26 is taking place in Glasgow over the next two weeks. It’s hoped that global leaders will agree action plans to cut carbon emissions at the rates required to limit global heating to safer levels, and support the nations most vulnerable to climate breakdown to adapt.  

But it’s not only world leaders who can change the future. Check out our other articles to find out how you can use your energy for climate action.