Analysis of Carbon Budget Shows Need for Rapid Transition to Clean Energy
Paris and Washington, D.C. – As world leaders gather in Paris to discuss lowering greenhouse gas emissions, Food & Water Watch released today a new policy statement calling for a transition to 100% renewables by 2035. The advocacy group’s analysis also shows that if we allow five more years at current emissions trends, we can expect the Earth’s temperature to race past 1.5°C of warming —meaning the transition must accelerate now.
“The threats from climate change are real and already happening,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director. “We have the technologies we need to make the transition away from dirty fossil fuels like coal and natural gas to clean energy sources like wind and solar power. What we lack is the political will. We need to organize and mobilize a movement to demand that politicians enact the policies necessary to make this transition equitable and rapid.”
Last month the United Kingdom’s national weather service announced that the increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial times is about 1°C. Evidence suggests that a rise of 1.5°C could have serious consequences for the planet including extreme heat events, reductions in crop yields, and the loss of coral reefs and fisheries. If temperatures were to rise above 1.5°C, climate tipping points, a level of warming beyond which a certain climate impact is expected to kick in abruptly and even become irreversible, could be reached. These tipping points could include shifts in sea ice and ocean circulation patterns, as well increased melting of glaciers, the ice caps, and tundra.
Analysis by Food & Water Watch shows that we can emit only about 220 billion tonnes more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to have a good chance at avoiding 1.5°C in temperature rise. That amounts to about five more years under current emissions trends. While emissions recently have been increasing by 3% each year, staving off a 1.5°C increase will require reducing carbon dioxide emissions form burning fossil fuels by 17% each year starting in 2016.
“We cannot rely on false solutions peddled by the oil and gas industry and their friends on Wall Street and in Washington,” said Hauter. “Burning natural gas instead of coal or trading the right to pollute in cap and trade schemes will not solve the climate crisis. The United States must take the lead globally and pursue a rapid transition, drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground and replace them with conservation, efficiency and renewables such as wind and solar by 2035.”
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