Global warming limit of 1.5°C is still in reach, study says
It will take some work, but we still might be able to limit the damage we have caused by climate change, according to new research.
A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience says a 1.5°C increase in global temperature from pre-industrial levels, which was the goal set out at the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not impossible. This contradicts predictions in 2015 that we will miss the 2030 targets.
However, if we are going to achieve the goal, it will take more ambitious emission reductions than those in place so far.
The study is a result of the work by researchers from Oxford University, the University of Exeter and University College London, among others. The authors assessed what they call the carbon budget, basically working out the amount of emissions that would correlate to a certain increase in global temperature, to see how much carbon we can still emit.
Taking into account the total warming to date, the team predicted how much we would have to cut back emissions by to keep the warming to only 1.5°C and found, while ambitious, it is still possible.
Even if emissions peak and and then decline before 2030, and then continue to decline, warming could range within 1.2 and 2°C, the study says.
“Limiting total CO2 emissions from the start of 2015 to beneath 240 billion tonnes of carbon (880 billion tonnes of CO2), or about 20 years’ of current emissions, would likely achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” said Dr Richard Millar, lead author of the paper.
“Previous estimates of the remaining 1.5°C carbon budget based on the IPCC 5th Assessment were around four times lower, so this is very good news for the achievability of the Paris targets,” said Professor Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter, a co-author on this study.
“The 5th Assessment did not specifically address the implications of the very ambitious 1.5°C goal using multiple lines of evidence as we do here. The ambition of Paris caught much of the science community by surprise.”
“This paper shows that the Paris goals are within reach, but clarifies what the commitment to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’ really implies,” said co-author Professor Michael Grubb of University College London.