The World’s Carbon Budget To Reach 1.5°C Of Warming Is Now 250 Gigatons Of CO2e

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The world’s carbon budget is shrinking at an accelerating pace, according to the latest scientific data. An international network of climate scientists collaborating on a new open data platform concluded that the world’s remaining carbon budget has been halved from a previously estimated 500 gigatons in early 2020 to 250 gigatons as of the beginning of 2023. 

According to estimates from the scientists at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world could burn 500 billion more tons of carbon dioxide to have a decent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) – a calculation published in 2020. Now, the new update shows that the world has halved its carbon budget in just three years, proving global warming is persistently accelerating at a “remarkable pace”.

The estimate showing how much we could burn until we reach 1.5 degrees of warming is known as the carbon budget.

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Scientists have taken the initiative to publish the latest available annual updates on essential climate indicators on an open data and open science platform called the Indicators of Global Climate Change (IGCC).

The goal is to inform decision-makers and politicians of the latest current and resilient scientific data as the previous assessments conducted by the IPCC dated back to 2020 are no longer actual. 

Relevant: “Tracking Emissions On An Hourly Basis Is Going To Be Critical For Informing Decarbonization Policy” – Greg Miller, PhD – Research and Policy Lead at Singularity Energy

The reduction in the remaining carbon budget was caused by the ongoing emissions that have occurred since 2020 that are on the rise and by a new scientific understanding of how particles of air pollution, known as aerosols, affect the climate.

According to the data, anthropogenic warming has reached an average of 1.14°C above pre-industrial levels during the latest decade – 2013 to 2022. Previously, between 2010 and 2019, the increase was recorded to be 1.07°C which means temperatures are accelerating. 

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Data also further reveals that humans have emitted an average of approximately 54 (+/-5.3) gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere during the last decade 2012 – 2021. 

The facts are showing that the carbon budget before 1.5 degrees of warming is reached could be spent in the next few years or before 2030. 

“In response to climate change, it is imperative that we remain adaptable and responsive. We must revise policies and approaches based on the most recent evidence concerning the state of the climate system. Time is no longer in our favor, and access to current information is of utmost importance,” stated the scientists’ conclusions.

“Even though we have not yet reached 1.5°C of warming, it is highly probable that the carbon budget will be depleted within a few years. This is due to a triple impact of heating caused by substantially elevated CO2 emissions, increases in other greenhouse gas emissions, and the reduction of pollution,” commented Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures at the University of Leeds and leader of the coordination of the Indicators of Global Climate Change Project.

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Scientific evidence once again is pointing that the economy and governments globally are not acting urgently enough on implementing measures that reduce emissions like shutting down coal plants, currently over 2,400 worldwide and providing one-third of the world’s electricity. 

Relevant: EPA Proposes New Emissions Limits For Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants

New report published on Monday also shows that the number of fossil fuel companies setting net-zero emissions targets has risen sharply over the past year. However, the report concludes that most of them fail to address key concerns which make those targets “largely meaningless”.

The assessment was run in part by the Britain-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and the University of Oxford. It also shows that none of the fossil fuel companies that pledge to cut emissions are making the needed commitments to actually move away from fossil fuel extraction or production.

Those conclusions are fueled by the fact that most targets do not fully cover or lack transparency on Scope 3 emissions – which include the use of a company’s products. They are often the biggest source of emissions for a fossil fuel company.

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