Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Tipping point on carbon emissions just 30 years away, warn scientists

Ian Barbour via Flickr

Scientists have warned that the total amount of carbon burnt since the industrial revolution must not exceed one trillion tonnes.

Experts have calculated that in the last three centuries, around 570 billion tonnes, or 57% of carbon, has been burnt, according to the Independent. Economic growth in developing countries means that the remaining 330 billion tonnes are expected to be used at an accelerated rate, running out in just 30 years unless action is taken to reduce emissions.

Exceeding the one trillion tonne limit could increase global warming by more than 2C, the scientists warn. Beyond this point, climate change consequences will become increasingly widespread and devastating.

Dieter Gerten of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research recently said that global warming of 2C would likely lead to a notable ecosystem restructuring in some regions.

The research is expected to appear in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report next week. It is hoped the review will prompt companies and governments to tackle the issues surrounding climate change.

The warnings follow global carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reaching the 400 parts per million (ppm) milestone in May. It has been 3m years since the air has been so heavily concentrated with greenhouse gas. A continuously running CO2 monitor registered the figure.

Scientists have commented on the importance of keeping carbon emissions below 450ppm. However, projections suggest the Earth will reach this level in 2037.

Further reading:

Global carbon dioxide levels hit highest levels for three million years

Global CO2 levels on the brink of unwanted milestone

Climate advisers say UK imports are causing CO2 to rise

UK carbon emissions increased by 4.5% in 2012

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