Don’t get too comfortable with your carbon footprint, because experts say we need to radically reduce how much fossil fuel we use. Eight scientists from around the world have discovered previous carbon budget estimates have been too generous, and won’t halt the onset of global warming as much as we thought. Their research recently published in the Nature Climate Change journal shows we actually need to cut fossil fuel by half to avert the worst effects of climate change.
Scientists agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks that we need to keep our carbon emissions from increasing the temperature of the planet to 2°C greater than pre-industrial era levels. By 2011, the World Resources Institute said we had already reached 52 percent of that budget, estimating we would exceed it by 2045 without appropriate action.
Of course, action was taken. 195 nations at the recent Paris climate talks in December agreed to take measures to reduce their emissions to stay below that 2°C limit. Yet the new research reveals current measures won’t actually help us meet that goal.
“The most scientifically robust number – the carbon budget for CO2-induced warming only – is also the least relevant for real-world policy,” the scientists said in their paper.
Acceptable emissions were thought to be approximately 2,390 billion tons if we were to reach the goal, but the scientists found we can only release between 590 to 1,240 billion tons.
“We have figured out that this budget is at the low end of what studies indicated before, and if we don’t start reducing our emissions immediately, we will blow it in a few decades,” Dr. Joeri Rogelj told The Guardian. “This study shows that, in some cases, we have been overestimating the budget by 50 to more than 200%. At the high end, this is a difference of more than 1,000 billion tons of carbon dioxide.”
What does this mean for us? It’s certainly a wake-up call for those who thought the agreement would solve our issues, and means it’s more crucial than ever to pursue renewable energy.
Via The Guardian