Tuesday December 15, 2015
After Paris climate talks comes the hard part: a global carbon diet
The world is about to go on a carbon diet. It won’t be easy — or cheap.
Nearly 200 countries across the world on Saturday approved a first-of-its-kind universal agreement to wean Earth off fossil fuels and slow global warming, patting themselves on the back for showing such resolve.
On Sunday morning, like for many first-day dieters, the reality sets in. The numbers — like calorie limits and hours needed in the gym — are daunting.
How daunting? Try more than 7.04 billion tonnes. That’s how much carbon dioxide needs to stay in the ground instead of being spewed into the atmosphere for those reductions to happen, even if you take the easier of two goals mentioned in Saturday’s deal. To get to the harder goal, it’s even larger numbers.
In the pact, countries pledged to limit global warming to about another one degree Celsius from now (or 2 C measuring against the pre-industrial average global surface temperature) — and if they can, only half that.
Another, more vague, goal is that by sometime in the second half of the century, human-made greenhouse gas emissions won’t exceed the amount that nature absorbs. Earth’s carbon cycle, which is complex and ever-changing, would have to get back to balance. (Source: CBC News)