How fast should we decrease CO2 emissions?

The main cause of climate change is not plastic or meat. It’s energy [1,2]!

Generating energy (for heating, lighting, transport, manufacturing and more) is responsible for about 74% of greenhouse gas emissions [1].

Greenhouse gases are found naturally in the air and ‘trap’ heat in the atmosphere [2,3]. Without them the Earth would be covered in ice [4]! Take a look at our posted image!

But because humans are producing extra greenhouse gases, mostly by burning fossil fuels for energy generation [1,5,6], the Earth is becoming warmer and warmer [7].

Take a look at the graph we posted.

The dashed line shows how emissions are predicted to increase in the future [8]. To limit the negative effects of climate change, the world’s governments have agreed to aim to keep global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to just 1.5°C [9].

The green line shows that emissions need to decrease by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030 in order to achieve the 1.5°C goal [10,11]. Clearly, we are well off track.

Can we continue to allow emissions to increase? 11,000 scientists have signed their name to say no: we are facing a climate emergency and things have to change [12]. So, what should we do? We’ll look at this in the next post!

References

[1] https://www.c2es.org/content/international-emissions/ See: Global Manmade Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector, 2013. Original source = World Resources Institute, Climate Analysis Indicators Tool. Total emissions from energy: energy + bunker fuels (ship fuel) = 72 +2.2% = 74.2%

[2] https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/19/what-is-the-greenhouse-effect/

[3]
https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/greenhousegases/properties.html Within article see especially: Paragraph 4

[4] https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/energybalance/planetarytemperatures.html Within article see: paragraph 2

[5] https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions#co2-emissions-and-prosperity Within article see especially: CO2 emissions and prosperity

[6] https://www.britannica.com/science/fossil-fuel

[7] https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=9936 Within report see: Temperature

[8] https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/emissions-gap-report/2019/ Within report see: The 1.5°C goal is on the brink of becoming impossible

[9] https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

[10] https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/30797/EGR2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Within report see: Executive summary, 5, bullet point 3

[11] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/ Within report see especially: B.1

[12] https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806 Within paper see especially: paragraph 1 and 7

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