United Nations’ Warns Greenhouse Gas Emissions Must be Reduced 100% by 2050 to Mitigate Climate Change

Oct 19, 2018

A new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides a sobering forecast of the consequences of climate change. If greenhouse gas (gHg) emissions continue at the current output rate, the report notes that the atmosphere’s temperature will increase up to 2.7°F (1.5°C) above preindustrial levels by 2040. This could lead to more severe weather patterns that will consequently have social effects such as stronger storms, increased coastal flooding and longer drought periods.

Previously, scientists believed that the turning point for such severe climate change was an atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F (2°C). The Paris Accords is an international agreement seeking to mitigate the rise and dangerous effects of gHg. It was signed in 2016 by 55 members, including the US, and was written assuming that 3.6°F was the threshold for the most severe effects of climate change. However, this new report asserts that these severe effects will be felt with an increase of only 2.7°F instead. Since the 1850s and the mainstream practice of coal burning for energy, the atmospheric temperature has already increased 1.8°F. For every further 1.8°F temperature increase, the report estimates the U.S. will lose approximately 1.2% of its gross domestic product.

The report states the only way to curtail this increase in gHg is to reduce ghg levels 45% from where they stood in 2010, by the year 2030. By 2050, these levels need to have been reduced 100%. Furthermore, use of coal will need to be significantly reduced. To reach these markers coal would only need to comprise between 1 and 7% of energy. This is an approximately 40% drop from current coal use.

Earlier this year President Trump announced his intentions to withdraw from the Paris Accords, and released a memo directing grid operators to purchase electricity from specific power plants at risk of closing. The Environmental Protection Agency recently also unveiled a new “Affordable Clean Energy” proposal that weakens pollution limits on coal-fired power plants through pushing more of the regulatory burden on to the states.

The U.S. delegation was one of more than 180 states that accepted the report’s summary when it was released. However a State Department statement released shortly following noted “acceptance of this report by the panel does not imply endorsement by the United States of the specific findings or underlying contents of the report.”

To view the report in full, click here: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/