The daunting reality of the new carbon reduction goals

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Following the recent climate talks in Paris, CBC News recently reported on the reality of the new climate goals established by the world's leaders, stressing that putting the planet on a 'carbon diet' could be more difficult than we first thought.
As the article notes, the meeting of 200 countries earlier this month resulted in a ground-breaking universal agreement to cut back on fossil fuels across the globe - 7.04 billion tonnes, in fact.
The countries also vowed to limit global warming to a maximum of approximately one degree Celsius from its current level. They also pledged that by the second half of this century, greenhouse gas emissions made by humans would not exceed that which nature was able to absorb.
But in order to achieve these ambitious goals, the article estimates that we would need to emit almost no greenhouse gases by the year 2070 to reach a one-degree global temperature increase; and by 2050 to reach the even harder goal of a half-degree increase.
Some scientists are already saying this isn't possible. Joeri Rogelj from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria argues that the best we can now hope for is a few tenths of a degree over that target, before slowly bringing it down further over decades, and perhaps even centuries.
This could be achieved through negative emissions, whereby technology and nature work together to remove more carbon dioxide from the air than is put in by human interference.
But plans to implement this have so far proven unrealistic, claims Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain. That's because a negative emissions strategy requires more forest land, more plants in the ocean and major technological advancements for storing carbon away from the air.
As the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter, accounting for more than a quarter of global CO2 emissions, China is now going to have to make the biggest cuts in its energy expenditure.
Experts state that if the world is to meet its target, global carbon emissions will have to peak by 2030 at the latest, then fall to almost zero. Without these efforts, the planet's temperature will increase by 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100; but China's plan alone will already reduce that estimate by 1.3 degrees.
Of course it's not just down to China - since the industrial revolution, developed countries have all been contributing to the world's carbon pollution. They will now have to do whatever it takes to reduce their carbon usage over the coming years.
Global Carbon Footprint



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