A team of Australian scientists and economists just published a new study that shows disastrous global warming will strike far sooner than expected. The model incorporated data for economic and population growth to create a “global energy tracker” that resulted in dire predictions: by 2020, temperatures will rise 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, and by 2030 we’ll reach the 2°C target set in Paris. Their suggestions for how to fight climate change would shock most politicians.
The new model is the first to take into account individual energy use – the team found that each person is using more than double of what a person used in 1950. Ben Hankamer, a molecular bioscientist from the University of Queensland, and Liam Wagner, an economist from Griffith University spoke to The Guardian about their research. They said to make the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy fast, governments should stop subsidizing the oil and gas industry and grant that money to the alternative energy industry to accelerate innovation.
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In 2015, the International Energy Agency reported that fossil fuel subsidies the prior year amounted to $490 billion. The Australia team believes that money could help the renewable energy industry advance to the point where it could be efficient enough to power our planet.
“We have a choice: leave people in poverty and speed towards dangerous global warming through the increased use of fossil fuels, or transition rapidly to renewables,” said Wagner.
Meanwhile, claims that fossil fuels lift more out of poverty just aren’t true, said the researchers. “You would have to burn so much coal in order to get the energy to provide people with a living to get them off $2.50 a day that [temperature rises] would just go through the roof very quickly,” said Hankamer.
The team’s research is meant as a call to action for governments. “The more the economy grows, the more energy you use…the conclusion really is that economists and environmentalists are on the same side and have both come to the same conclusion: we’ve got to act now and we don’t have much time,” said Hankamer.
Via The Guardian
Images via Tim J. Keegan and Dimitry B. on Flickr