Written By: Emma Websdale
Carbon budgets to secure safe global temperatures could become exhausted within the next 15-25 years, warns Lord Stern.
Following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Friday, Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist, has warned that talks must start urgently on ‘Carbon Budgets’ – the amount of greenhouse gases that can be released into the atmosphere before triggering hazardous and irreversible climate change.
The IPCC report, the first of its kind to estimate how much human induced carbon dioxide emissions can be released before creating irreparable damage, found that a 2C increase in global temperatures could be catastrophic, resulting in extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels.
In order to maximize our capacity to curb global temperatures at 2C; the report warns that future releases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 820-1445 billion tons during the rest of this century. Alarmingly, the report suggests that possibly half to two-thirds of the carbon budget have already been used up.
With more than half of the emission figure already emitted by 2011 (531 gigatons) alongside other greenhouse gases taken into account, the remaining budget would be reduced to 820 – 880 gigatons.
Lord Stern warns that without radical ‘carbon budget’ policies, this figure could be exceeded within the next 15 to 25 years.
“Given that the world is currently emitting about 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in terms of carbon-dioxide-equivalent each year, this report implies that, even if we were to stay at current levels, we would exhaust the emissions budget within 15 to 25 years”, says Lord Stern.
He added, “If we continue to increase annual emissions, the budget will be depleted even sooner. That is why I think nations, cities, communities and companies will recognize the importance of these findings and will increase the urgency and scale of the emissions reductions that they are planning to undertake.”
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