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Another IPCC report?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published Part Three of its Sixth Assessment Report on Monday. This new report focuses on climate change mitigation measures. There you will, somehow, find the latest instructions for limiting global warming to 2 and, ideally, 1.5 ℃. However, if this trend continues, the planet will be heading towards an average rise of 2.7℃ by the end of the century.
Increasingly narrow road
The more time passes, the greater the “window of opportunity” to achieve the 2015 Paris Agreement targets. That year, total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 40.2 billion tons and the CO2 concentration2 In the atmosphere it peaked at 400.91 parts per million (ppm). Seven years later, the picture has worsened.
The drop in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, to 38 billion tons, was only short-lived. With global economic activity picking up in 2021, emissions from the energy sector alone total 36.3 billion tons.
According to the Global Carbon Project, an international group of scientists, 2021 should approach its all-time high in 2019, when emissions totaled 40.5 billion tons.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. In fact, we should instead expect a 16% increase in emissions by the end of the decade, considering all commitments made to the Glasgow Summit last November.
The carbon dioxide concentration was2 in Earth’s atmosphere on March 29. This unit of measurement, parts per million (ppm), indicates the number of carbon dioxide molecules2 per million air molecules. However, the higher the concentration, the higher the Earth’s temperatures.
For 800,000 years, the concentration of carbon dioxide was2 It never exceeded 300 parts per million, NASA estimates. This barrier was crossed at the beginning of XXAnd the century and has been postponed ever since. Scientists have calculated that over the past 60 years, the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been 1,000 times faster than the natural increases that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age.
In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated 450 ppm as the limit that must not be exceeded in order to limit warming to 2°C. On February 14, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa station recorded a concentration of 421.59 parts per million, a level similar to that prevailing between 4.1 and 4.5 million years ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1750, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 49%.
The carbon budget must be respected
What is the carbon budget? Like any budget, exercise makes it possible to determine the level of expenditure that should not be exceeded, otherwise it will be in deficit. The carbon budget limits the amount of greenhouse gases that can be sent into the atmosphere according to the targets set by the Paris Agreement.
To limit warming to 1.5, the world has 420 billion tons of greenhouse gases to spend, with a 50% chance of reaching that target, according to the latest estimates from the Global Carbon Project. At the current rate of global emissions, this budget will be exhausted in 11 years.
To limit warming to 2, the world has 1,270 billion tons of greenhouse gases to spend, with a 50% chance of success. At the current rate, this budget will be exhausted in 32 years.
In addition to the energy transition, the IPCC has already announced that part of its report will be devoted to technology. Behavioral and lifestyle choices at the individual and societal level will also be addressed. On this topic, a recent study by researchers at the University of Leeds, UK, made it possible to target some changes in the Western way of life that will make it possible to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. Six changes were targeted:
- Reduce meat consumption as much as possible.
- Only buy three new pieces of clothing each year.
- Keep your electronic devices for at least seven years.
- Take a short trip (three hours or less) every three years and a long trip every eight years.
- If possible, do without the car, otherwise keep your vehicle longer.
- Make a “systematic” change, for example, adjust your retirement fund to stop investing in fossil fuels, or review your home’s insulation or heating system if it runs on oil or gas.
Sources: IPCC, Global Carbon Project, Our World in Data, WatchmanFrance media agency
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