With each year that passes us by the carbon dioxide emission reductions required to limit global warming to a 2°C increase are becoming more and more difficult to reach according to new figures reported today in the latest Global Carbon Project calculations published today in the advanced online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change.
“A shift to a 2°C pathway requires an immediate, large, and sustained global mitigation effort” says Global Carbon Project (GCP) executive-director and CSIRO co-author of the paper, Dr Pep Canadell.
The statistics say it all: since 1990, global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 58 percent. 2011 saw them rise by 3 percent, and another 2.6 so far in 2012, reached by estimating 3.3 percent growth in global gross domestic product and 0.7 percent improvement in the carbon intensity of the economy.
Dr Canadell said the latest carbon dioxide emissions continue to track at the high end of a range of emission scenarios, expanding the gap between current trends and the course of mitigation needed to keep global warming below 2°C.
The problem is simple: the need for limiting the global warming to 2°C has not changed, but there was always an end-time for when this needed to be accomplished by. As the years have gone by, and each year has ended without the necessary limitations being put into place, the necessary limitations have increased and are still not being implemented.
The researchers compared recent carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and gas flaring with emission scenarios used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to project climate change.
“We need a sustained global CO2 mitigation rate of at least 3% if global emissions are to peak before 2020 and follow an emission pathway that can keep the temperature increase below 2˚C,” said research leader Dr Glen Peters from CICERO, Norway.
“Mitigation requires energy transition led by the largest emitters of China, the US, the European Union and India”.
He said that remaining below a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels will require a commitment to technological, social and political innovations and an increasing need to rely on net negative emissions in future.