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The Next Ten Years Will Be Pivotal in Our Fight Against Climate Change

We have a lot of work to do.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
4 SEP 2017
 

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, net emissions have to peak in the next ten years.The Paris Agreement was an historic, worldwide commitment to keep global temperature increases well below 2°C, and to ultimately limit the average increase to 1.5°C by 2100.

 

But unless we get our act together, this may never be a reality.

A new study reveals that in order to meet our Paris Agreement goals, the world's net emissions would have to peak in the next ten years.

In a perfect scenario, where renewable energy increases by 5% a year, the world's net emissions would peak by 2022.

On the other hand, the study found that if we continue to rely on fossil fuels and renewable energy continues to increase by 2–3% a year, global temperatures would rise by 3.5°C by 2100.

In order to get our carbon emissions to peak in the next ten years, fossil fuel consumption needs to be less than a quarter of our global energy supply by 2100.

To put this into perspective, right now our fossil fuel consumption makes up 95% of our global energy supply.

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At the same time, the study suggests we would need to drastically change the way that we use land.

"This study gives a broad accounting of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, where it comes from and where it goes. We take into account not just emissions from fossil fuels, but also agriculture, land use, food production, bioenergy, and carbon uptake by natural ecosystems," says Brian Walsh, who led the study.

 

By altering the way that we use land, we could decrease our cumulative emission by 42% by the end of the century.

But here is the bad news.

Even if we manage to reduce our emissions through fossil fuels and land use, without technologies that are able to remove substantial amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, we would miss the Paris Agreement target by 0.5°C.

And when it comes to climate change, even 0.5°C is a big fucking deal.