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Climate: No slowdown in CO2 emissions in 2012

Capping temperature increase at 2 degrees is almost unattainable

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Global temperatures were well above average in Nov. 2012. Map courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —With 2012 winding down, climate scientists are taking stock of progress on controlling heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and the general conclusion is that it’s just about too late to stop the plunge off the climate cliff.

Researchers with the Global Carbon Project said in a report earlier this month that reductions required to limit global warming to the targeted 2 degrees Celsius are becoming a receding goal.

“A shift to a 2-degree Celsius pathway requires an immediate, large, and sustained global mitigation effort” said Global Carbon Project director Dr. Pep Canadell.

Global CO2 emissions have increased by 58 percent since 1990, rising 3 percent in 2011, and 2.6 percent in 2012. The most recent figure is estimated from a 3.3 percent growth in global gross domestic product and a 0.7% percent improvement in the carbon intensity of the economy.

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 degrees Celsius.

Ongoing international climate negotiations need to recognize and act upon the growing gap between the current pathway of global greenhouse emissions and the likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, he said.

The GCP study, led by Dr, Glen Peters from CICERO, Norway, compared recent carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and gas flaring with emission scenarios used to project climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change .

“We need a sustained global CO2 mitigation rate of at least 3 percent if global emissions are to peak before 2020 and follow an emission pathway that can keep the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius,” Peters said. “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-degree 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.

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