It will be unclear whether the world will be able to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, which the international community considers the upper limit before global warming becomes ever dangerous. If all countries fulfill their promises to become completely greenhouse gas neutral at some point in the coming decades, the increase in global temperatures could remain at 1.9 degrees. It is highly doubtful whether countries that promised zero emissions will meet the deadlines.
This is evidenced by new calculations carried out by the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), published on Monday afternoon. To achieve the promise of reducing global warming by 1.5 degrees (we’re already at 1.2 degrees), the world would have to emit as much greenhouse gases as it absorbs in 2050: net zero.
The PBL points out that this goal is still a long way off. Under current climate agreements, the world will still emit 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 20502– “Equations” release a lot of emissions, or two-thirds of current global emissions.
Net zero emissions
Many countries have now declared a year in which they want to achieve net zero emissions. For Europe and the United States, this is 2050, for China 2060, and India has promised zero emissions limits for 2070. Even if all countries adhere to this, in 2050 a country like the United States will still lack carbon dioxide.2That emissions remain at 1.5 degrees, or 6 billion tons, Calculates PBL.
“The current policy is simply not enough,” says PBL researcher Detlev van Vuuren when asked. “Although it is very wise to stay as close to 1.5 degrees as possible.”
Even if all countries that have not yet set a net-zero year did so – and committed to it – the temperature rise would exceed 1.5 degrees. “Then we’ll be more or less on the path to 1.6 or 1.7 degrees,” Van Vuuren says.
Behind these calculations lies an important and optimistic assumption: that all net-zero countries will first meet their old climate pledges, and then onward move towards net-zero. “While in practice, you can imagine that in countries like India, emissions might increase somewhat initially,” says van Vuuren.
The new PBL report is one of a series of state-of-the-climate accounts to be published around this time. PBL climate calculators specifically consider greenhouse gases expected to be released into the air in 2050.
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