Earth’s Carbon Budget Could Run Out By 2029: Here’s What It Means
The planet is already on the brink of surpassing an internationally agreed-upon threshold for climate warming, relative to pre-industrial levels, according to Nature Climate Change.
By early 2029, if greenhouse gases continue to be emitted at the current rate, Earth may be unable to remain below the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
The carbon budget – or, the net amount of carbon dioxide that humans can still emit without exceeding the threshold – could run out sooner than the previously expected year.
How Important Is The Warming Target
While climate models cannot accurately predict when irreversible impacts of climate change may be triggered, going beyond the benchmark increases the risk of catastrophes.
A 2018 IPCC report predicts that amount of warming will melt Antarctic ice sheets, elevate sea levels, threaten coral reefs, make oceans more acidic, and negatively impact crops.
“The world will blow past 1.5C well before today’s kindergarteners finish high school,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University.
Just How Disastrous Could It All Be
Once 1.5 degrees of global warming is reached, the next countdown will be to 2 degrees Celsius of warming, relative to pre-industrial levels, which will likely occur in the 2040s.
Just half a degree more of warming will lead to even more disastrous disruptions. Should temperatures rise up to 3 degrees, research shows the result would be unlivable conditions.
“Even if we’re going to miss our most ambitious target, which seems increasingly likely, that just ups the pressure to keep it from rising even further,” said Zeke Hausfather from Berkeley Earth.
It’s Not Too Late Though
While the carbon budget may be running low, climate scientists believe it’s not too late to drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming.
According to the UN, to address the 1.5 degrees warming threshold, current emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
The world’s largest emitters have the further responsibility to increase and encourage efforts to cut the use of fossil fuels across the globe and adopt clean energy in greater proportions.