Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Delaying emission cuts could cause widespread damage

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol via flickr

New research has suggested that ambitious emissions reduction targets are needed now in order to make an impact and slow the pace of climate change.

The research looked into the recent downward revisions in the climate responses to rising carbon dioxide levels and opportunities for reducing non-carbon dioxide climate warming. Separate evidence suggests that there is a less urgent need than previously thought to reduce emissions said the report. However, the new study indicates that this is not the case.

According to the Guardian, the research, which was published in the Natural Climate Change journal, argues that delaying reductions in emissions will result in faster global warming and make it more difficult to reverse.

Researchers found that carbon dioxide concentrations accumulate in the atmosphere and what happens after they peak remains as relevant as the timing. As a result, it is vital that sustained reductions in emissions are adhered to.

Speaking to the newspaper, Myles Allen, professor of ecosystems science at Oxford University and lead author of the study, said, “Unless we assume the long-suffering taxpayers of the 2020s somehow manage to compensate for continued procrastination now, peak carbon dioxide induced warming is increasing at the same rate as emissions themselves – at almost 2% a year – which is much faster than the observed warming.”

He added that this meant if we were aiming for a 2C warming limit in 2010 a delay of only five years has already cost us two-10ths of a degree. Warming above 2C would cause widespread damage and extreme weather.

According to separate research from the International Energy Agency, the world is currently on track to see an increase of 3.6C.

At the beginning of the month the World Meteorological Organisation announced that greenhouse gas has reached a record high. Between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate.

In May this year it was also revealed that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm). Scientists have noted the importance of keeping carbon emissions below 450ppm, a milestone we are currently predicted to reach in 2037. 

Further reading:

Oceans acidifying at ‘unprecedented rates’ because of manmade CO2

Study argues 90 firms to blame for 63% of manmade emissions

World on track to see temperatures increase by 3.6C

Global warming slowdown linked to ban of ozone depleting chemicals

Greenhouse gas at record high – 141% on pre-industrial levels

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