We may still be able to attain the Paris climate target of limiting global warming to an ambitious 1.5ºC, scientists say.
Photo by AP/Francois Mori
The Paris climate accord is an agreement among most of the countries in the world regarding dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. Each signatory country can create their own plans and timeline for their own efforts for mitigating global warming. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change set a target of limiting global warming to below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, or, more ideally, below 1.5ºC.
The 1.5ºC goal surprised scientists, and many thought that it was too ambitious or even unattainable. Reaching that goal would require nearly immediate and stringent measures to cut back on carbon emissions. Another study has also found that we may be unable to meet the targets unless we work to cut back emissions quickly and aggressively. However, with climate change denial still going strong, this may be difficult to do.
Photo by COP Paris/Flickr
This new study, however, renews hope that we may still be able to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. According to the new analysis, we have a bigger carbon emissions budget for the 1.5ºC target than we previously thought. This means that nations in the Paris accord can keep their original plans regarding how they'll cut their carbon emissions in the future. We'll still be able to keep global temperatures from rising beyond the target temperatures.
The findings of the study are a fresh estimate of the new carbon budget based on new information that weren't available when previous studies on the same issue were conducted. Researchers also updated the measurements of emissions and warming that have already taken place. As such, the resulting carbon budget is about four times higher than the previous estimate. The researchers were able to come up with the new budget by taking a number of different approaches and using more than one line of evidence.
According to the results of the study, attaining a 66% chance of meeting the Paris climate target by the year 2100 entails sticking to a budget of 240bn tonnes of carbon. However, the researchers also stress that this new budget estimate does not mean that countries can be lax about meeting their emissions targets.
Photo by AP/Michael Euler
The new budget calculation came about with the assumption that other greenhouse gases, not just carbon, are also under control. Thus, there's still a need for strong, decisive actions when it comes to reducing emissions. It's also important to note that this study also asserts that carbon cuts need to happen as soon as possible.
What the study assures us of is that hope is not lost, not that we can delay swift and decisive action against climate change and global warming. Meeting the 1.5ºC target is just more achievable than we previously thought, but the researchers acknowledge that it still entails a lot of work. This means that it's necessary for countries in the agreement to strengthen their commitments to cutting their emissions.
The Paris climate target is still within reach, so we need to do our best to make sure that it remains within reach until we finally achieve it.
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