Research indicates that carbon dioxide removal plans will not be enough to meet Paris treaty goals

Research indicates that carbon dioxide removal plans will not be enough to meet Paris treaty goals

New research conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that current carbon removal plans will not be enough to comply with Paris treaty goals to limit global warming to 1.5C, . Scientists came to this conclusion by measuring the “emissions gap” between various national climate protection plans and what is actually needed to reach that goal.

This first-of-its-kind study found a gap of up to 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) between current global plans to remove carbon from the atmosphere and what’s needed by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. These impacts include heatwaves, floods, droughts, melting ice and sea level rise.

Since 2010, the United Nations environmental organization UNEP has taken similar measurements of this emissions gap. UEA’s research, which focuses primarily on CO2 removal, indicates that climate policy requires a more ambitious scope if we are to, well, survive as a species.

This means a more nuanced and robust approach that still keeps current carbon removal practices in place, but with a renewed focus on cutting emissions, renewable energy and minimizing deforestation. There are also novel carbon removal options that many nations have been slow to discuss, let alone implement.

These include advanced air filters systems and . The latter is a technique in which carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored in rocks. These techniques account for the removal of just 0.002 billion tons of C02 per year, compared to 3 billion tons through conventional options. The research indicates that these novel options must become more prevalent in the coming years to help meet that 1.5C threshold.

“The calculation should certainly be refined,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. William Lamb, of the MCC Applied Sustainability Science working group. “This much is clear: without a rapid reduction in emissions towards zero, across all sectors, the 1.5C limit will not be met under any circumstances.”

Co-author Dr. Naomi Vaughan, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, added that “countries need more awareness, ambition and action on scaling up carbon dioxide removal methods together with deep emissions reductions to achieve the aspirations of the Paris Agreement.”

To that end, even if every country sticks to promises regarding carbon removal targets, the amount of carbon removed would likely increase by a maximum of 0.5 billion tons by 2030 and 1.9 billion tons by 2050. The latest reported that it would take a removal increase of 5.1 billion tons to avoid the worst effects of climate change. So, yeah, there’s that gap of 3.2 billion tons.

We aren’t doomed, at least not yet anyways. The IPCC suggests an alternative scenario in which the world’s governments work together to reduce global energy demand, hastened by “politically initiated behavior.” In this scenario, carbon removal would increase by 2.5 billion tons by 2050 and alternative methods would help tighten the emissions gap to just 400 million tons. So we basically have to shift our entire society from one of self interest to one of global cooperation. It never hurts to dream and, hey, maybe AI will swoop in and save us.

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