Only five years left before 1.5C carbon budget is blown

The following article from the Carbon Brief explains an updated analysis for 2016 that calculates how many years of current emissions are left before blowing the budgets for 1.5C, 2C or 3C above pre-industrial levels. i.e. how much carbon dioxide we can emit and still keep global average temperature rise to no more than 1.5C, 2C and 3C.

The international politically agreed goal for climate change is to “hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels”. At COP21 Paris in December 2015 it was also agreed that we will “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. However this analysis suggests that “just five years of CO2 emissions at current levels would be enough to use up the carbon budget for a good chance – a 66% probability – of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C.” There are now in fact less than five years since the time of it’s publication.

For 2C and 3C the authors note that “The equivalent remaining budgets for a 66% chance of staying below 2C and 3C are 20 years and three months, and 55 years and six months (respectively) of current emissions”.

The target for 1.5C was included in the Paris agreement (albeit in vague and non-committal terms) and it is extremely unlikely that such a target could be achieved given the complete lack of any coherent strategy to achieve such a target. This begs the question, what about the 2C target? Do we have sufficient strategies in place to decarbonise our economies at a rate and to an extent that would achieve this goal?


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