Study: Humanity has only nine years to avoid catastrophic global warming

DETROIT — The world has nearly used up all of its remaining carbon budget. In less than a decade it will be over – unless we do much more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by then the world is heading, taking the world to a critical warming threshold, according to a new study.

If this threshold is reached, it trigger severe climate impacts around the world, from floods and droughts to hurricanes and typhoons. Can we still act in time?

When the pandemic hit, humanity recoiled and halted many of its activities as part of public health measures, resulting in our greenhouse gas emissions decreasing. As the world sought to recover after this, it was hoped that post-pandemic reconstruction would focus on sustainability and climate action.

But it wasn’t enough

This year has been devastating. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it sent Europe (and therefore, the world) into a frenzy for new sources of gas. New gas projects have been launched in response, and these projects will consume about 10% of the remaining carbon budget, according to the study. This would make it almost impossible for the world to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the new data.

The global carbon budget, an annual report of how much emissions the world can afford to put out to stay within its global warming targets, found that emissions will hit an all-time high this year, with most coming from fossil fuels. Emissions increased in the United States and India compared to 2021, while China and the EU saw slight declines.

Think of it this way: there are climatic tipping points or thresholds; if we reach them, there will be irreversible damage and even if we reduce our emissions immediately, there is no going back. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions we can emit without reaching such a point is called our “budget” – when we spend our budget, we get into debt, or in this case, a devastating new climate state.

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Teresa H. Sadler