A LEADING environmental charity is urging Scotland to continue its demonstration of climate leadership with a “clear commitment” to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Remarks from Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, came a day after a team of international scientists warned that a climactic “tipping point” could be just decades away.

They described it as “Hothouse Earth”, and said the new climate would see temperatures stabilise at up to 5C higher than pre-industrial levels, which would also see sea levels at up to 60 metres higher than now, bringing a threat to coastal communities and leaving areas around the equator uninhabitable.

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The team said such “tipping elements” are predicted to trigger destructive processes when the temperature hits 2C higher than pre-industrial levels, which Professor Johan Rockstrom, a leading member of the team from Stockholm University, said could potentially act like a row of dominoes.

He said: “Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another. It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over.”

The researchers said avoiding this would require “deep cuts” in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as action to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“Our analysis suggests that the Earth system may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing rapid pathway toward much hotter conditions – Hothouse Earth,” they wrote.

“This pathway would be propelled by strong, intrinsic, biogeophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human actions, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered or substantially slowed.”

Climate researcher Dr Phil Williamson of the University of East Anglia said: “In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm.

“The wolves are now in sight.”

Gardner warned that climate change was one of the greatest threats facing nature and people.

“It means extreme weather such as the heatwave scorching the UK and Europe could become the new normal,” he said.

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“Scotland has demonstrated climate leadership in the past, to continue to do so it must use the upcoming Climate Change Bill to set a clear commitment to net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

“We know this is the minimum level of ambition science dictates if we are to come close to playing our full part in preventing runaway climate change.

“Earlier this year a dozen of the world’s leading climate scientists including professors from Cambridge, Oxford, London, Edinburgh and Aberdeen universities urged the Scottish Government to adopt a target for net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.”