The Paris accord sought to limit the long term temperature increase to well below 2C, and to strive for 1.5C. With this goal in mind, a worldwide carbon budget was created.
First, let’s talk 2C temperature rise. Why do we focus on limiting the increase to 2C? Because, beyond that the impact will be devastating. An increase of just 1.5C will be catastrophic for all low-lying living areas, such as most Pacific islanders, and that goal was included specifically for them.
On days like today (January-2018) it may feel nicer. 2C is just an average, but it doesn’t explain what we can expect from weather. It could be much higher temperatures at the poles; for instance, at current projections, we’ll in the next 10-30 years have triggered the massive Greenland ice melt which will happen throughout the next centuries. That alone is about 7m of sea level rise. This will happen! The key question to ask from this is; what will the many impacts be for us?
- Sea level rise
- Extreme temperature increases
In 1990 the first IPCC report was written. Since then our emissions have continued to grow by 60%. Last year, 2017, we were up 2% over 2016. The US for instance has done very little to concertedly reduce emissions. Had it not been for fracking which is today displacing coal over NG as a preferred fuel, our emissions would have increased rather than being stagnant. Note; the fracking technology was not driven by political pressure. It came about because of pure economics.
We have completely and totally failed for 28 years! We continue to waste our carbon budget. And no – we cannot blame it on world population, because 10% of us account for 50% of CO2 emissions, and I’ll leave it to you to figure out where the 10% live! As an adult voting generation, we are guilty of passing a tremendous heap of garbage on to our children.
The goal set by California, which is to reduce emissions by 80% (8% p.a.) by 2050 is not sufficient, and the plan is fraught with potential problems. Like many governmental plans, it includes a large (questionable) biomass related component. Without going into details, our Governor recently directed agencies to review this subject in light of the recent fires. One likely outcome is that the state must be more aggressive with reductions through other means.
In order to stay within the 2C Paris accord, we must reduce worldwide emissions by >10% p.a. Additionally, there’s an equity component for which we need to budget extra. But let’s face it, even 10% is going to be incredibly hard, and I suggest we try to do better, but at minimum stay with that. So for 2018; we need to be at 90% from last year. For 2019 we save another 10%, and so on. The key is to aggressively reduce emissions immediately, because by delaying we make it we just make it much harder. Oh, and the Pacific islanders and company? Well, I fail to see any option other than to migrate away from rising waters, and for us to start making room for displaced people!
Cheers & a very Happy New Year to you all – Mogens