Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise again this year, putting the world on a path toward dangerous climate change and making the internationally-accepted warming target of 2 degrees Celsius nearly “unachievable,” say researchers.
According to a new paper published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions will rise by 2.6 percent this year, fueled by major increases in China and India. This follows a record year in 2011, when countries pumped 3.1 percent more global warming pollution into the atmosphere — making it very likely that the world will blow past the 2 degree C warming threshold that scientists and international negotiators agree is needed to avoid catastrophic consequences.
Some even call global warming of 2 degrees C, which is on the lowest end of projections, a “prescription for disaster.”
Here’s how one of the report’s authors characterized the problem when talking to The Guardian:
“I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan,” said co-author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain and professor at the University of East Anglia.
Current emissions growth is placing the world on a path to warm between 4C and 6C, says the study, with global emissions jumping 58% between 1990 and this year. The study focuses on emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production.
“Unless large and concerted global mitigation efforts are initiated soon, the goal of remaining below 2C will soon become unachievable,” say the authors.
The findings come during the COP18 international climate talks in Doha, Qatar, where observers have low expectations for any agreements to reduce carbon emissions. The world’s two biggest emitters — China and the U.S. — are quietly setting up a framework for a possible international climate treaty after 2015. In the meantime, global warming pollution continues unabated and scientists warn that the window for action is closing fast.
“We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem,” said Canadian Climate Scientist Andrew Weaver, responding to the latest data on carbon emissions.
Last week, the World Bank issued a report sumarizing the latest climate science. It concluded that the world is on track for 4 degrees Celsius warming by the end of the century — an extremely dangerous rise in temperature that ensure “extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.”