The good news about climate change, supposedly, is that the United States, China and the European Union all have pledged to control their carbon emissions in an effort to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.
Now, here's the bad news. The limits to which the big emitters committing won't be enough.
That's the conclusion of a new study led by Glen Peters from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo, which found that the rest of the nations of the world would have to cut their emissions practically to nothing for a serious rise in global temperature, and all the changes it will bring, to be avoided.
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"We find that, combined, the EU, US, and Chinese pledges leave little room for other countries to emit CO2 if a 2 °C limit is the objective, essentially requiring all other countries to move towards per capita emissions 7 to 14 times lower than the EU, USA, or China by 2030," noted the study, which is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Under the current pledges, the three biggest greenhouse emitters would use up 79 percent of the amount of CO2 that human civilization could release and still stay at or below the 2 degrees Celsius goal. That would require fast-growing developing countries to impose stringent limits.
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The biggest problem identified by the researchers is China, the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, which in recent history has seen high growth in its emissions.
"China would still need to peak emissions by around 2017 before starting a rapid decarbonization of the economy to more than 80 percent emissions reductions by 2050 if 2 °C is to be avoided and considering the ‘shares' of others," the study notes.