photo: IRRI Images/Creative Commons
With COP16 just ended and some hope of multilateral action on climate revived a new report from Friends of the Earth highlights an important point in all these discussions: Current official calculations on emission reductions only give us a 50% chance of keeping temperature rise below 2°C. That's not what nations have pledged to do mind you, which certainly won't keep temperature rise below that critical threshold. To give us a 70% of chance of avoiding climate catastrophe much deeper cuts are needed. Via The Guardian:
Friends of the Earth says that if the maximum amount of global emissions the world could allow - what is called the remaining "carbon budget" - were shared out equally on the basis of average populations between now and 2050, the US would need to slash its emissions by as much as 95% by 2030, the EU by 83%, and the UK by 80%. Just a week ago, the government's climate advisers said the UK should aim for a 60% cut by 2030.
China would need to peak its emissions by 2013 and then reduce them by 5% per year, today's report said. If historical, cumulative emissions are counted, the US and EU have already used more than their share of the global carbon budget. Emissions in these countries would need to cease immediately.
Friends of the Earth positions this as one of global equity, with its director saying, "It's astonishing that the UK, EU and G8 have adopted policies based on a 50:50 chance of avoiding a two-degree rise in global temperatures--this is a reckless gamble with the lives and livelihoods of millions of people on the planet."
If emissions in the US, EU, etc would have to cease immediately in this analysis to give us a 70% chance of keeping temperatures below 2°C, we simply aren't going to meet that level of (un)certainty. Even if there was the political and societal will to immediately cease carbon emissions, as a practical matter to do so without instigating collapse (which of course may well come without taking action albeit at a later date) simply is not going to happen. Transitioning to a zero-carbon society is just not something that is going to happen in that short a time period, even if it can be done far more quickly than naysayers and polluters would like us to believe.
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