Climate Change Could Be Curbed By Immediate Fossil Fuel Phaseout

18 Janvier, 2019, 12:11 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Smoke and steam rises from the Laziska coal-fired power plant near Katowice Poland. Monika Skolimowska

Global warming above 1.5C increases the likelihood of unsafe impacts such as severe droughts and sea levels high enough to flood coastal cities, according to experts.

"It's good news from a geophysical point of view", Dr. Chris Smith, lead study author and University of Leeds researcher, said to The Guardian.

"We are basically saying we can't build anything now that emits fossil fuels".

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the difference between 1.5C of warming and the earlier worldwide target of 2C was a significantly lower risk of drought, floods, heatwaves and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. "We are basically saying we can't build anything now that emits fossil fuels".

According to the study, which "used computer models to estimate by how much global temperatures would rise if a fossil fuel infrastructure phaseout began immediately" including an end to beef and dairy consumption, The Guardian reported, there would be a 66 percent chance of keeping the global temperature below 1.5C. If the phaseout does not begin until 2030, the chance is 33 per cent.

Crossing tipping points such as the melting of polar permafrost or the sudden release of methane trapped on the ocean floor could put the Earth into a warming spiral from which there is no escape.

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Researchers admit their model is very ambitious, but want to bring awareness that meeting the 1.5C target is achievable - it's all dependent on the choices that are made here and now.

Other work, using a different approach, has also shown that keeping within the 1.5C limit is possible if radical action is taken immediately.

They would need to be replaced by zero-carbon alternatives such as electric cars, modern-style sailing vessels and renewable energy sources.

"Whether it's drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel vehicle, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. The message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away".

Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London, warned: "Each year we fail to cut global emissions will make it more unlikely that we can keep global warming below 1.5C". I think we are heading for 2°C.to 2.5°C", he said, but "if you don't have a goal, you are not going to get anywhere.

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