New study shows that it will be impossible to keep global warming under 2°C because of fossil fuel activity

From ToxicLeaks

Last December 2015, the talks in the COP 21 Conference in Paris had led to a historical achievement. Each countries had committed to environmental policies designed to reduce their amount of C0² emissions in order to slow down global warming and keep it under the threshold of 2°C. Indeed 2°C is considered by the vast majority of scientists as the limit beyond which global warming may be impossible to stop and the environmental consequences would then become irreversible. The problem is, a new study conducted by top scientists at the Universal Ecological Fund just concluded that the Paris agreement is far from enough to curb the rise of CO² emissions and the subsequent global warming. As a matter of fact, the scientists estimate that the dangerous level of 2°C will be reached around 2050 and that the global temperature will continue to rise after that. Who is to blame for this ? The usual felons : fossil fuel corporations that keep raking in billions of dollars of profit even though the cost of their activities will be born by the whole planet.

A scientific study proves that the COP 21 pledges won't be enough to avoid exceeding a 2°C global warming[edit | edit source]

A team of 6 top climate scientists lead by Sir Robert Watson just released a report they have been working on with the Argentinean NGO Universal Ecological Fund. The team comprised Doctor Carlo Carraro, Doctor Pablo Canziani, Doctor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Doctor James McCarty and Doctor Jose Goldemberg. And their conclusions are appalling, given the trend we are on, the pledges made at the Paris Conference last December will not be enough to prevent the world's atmosphere from heating up over the limit of 2°C more than the preindustrial era, a limit beyond which global warming could very well be impossible to stop. Despite the tidal wave of auto congratulations from world leaders at the conference, Sir Robert Watson is adamant : "The pledges are not going to get even close". The scientists have carefully factored in all the promises made in Paris and they guarantee that they will only be enough to delay the moment we hit the limit until around 2050. They add that with a few more efforts, we could postpone that moment another 20 years. But as Sir Robert Watson puts it : "If you governments of the world are really serious, you're going to have to do way, way more." The thing is that the greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere already ensures that the 2°C limit will be reached sooner or later. And now the only thing we can hope for is to prevent the world temperature from rising high above that limit. Because the consequences of global warming can already be felt by billions of people around the world, and as the temperature keeps creeping up, they will get worse and worse. A view shared by other members of the scientific community, that have instantly endorsed the conclusion of the report, however pessimistic they might be. For example, Stefan Rahmstorf, a prominent member of Germany's Institute for Climate Change Research in Potsdam, agrees with the content of the work : "It is a good summary of what is common knowledge in the climate expert community, but not widely appreciated by members of the public and even policy makers(...). So indeed, it is a useful reminder to the world about what is at stake".

Major climate disruptions to expect as we overpass the 2°C limit[edit | edit source]

What is at stake ? A shift in the atmosphere that could lead to severe climate disruptions that will make life on earth more difficult for everybody and that could ultimately jeopardize our survival as a specie. And the change is already happening. September 2016 is a very worrying milestone in the history of global warming, for the first time ever, the world atmosphere has permanently passed the threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. These last years, that level was periodically reached during the summer, than the carbon dioxide concentration would fall back down under 400 ppm. However, this year, the fall of the carbon dioxide concentration didn't bring it back under that limit. The erratic changes we see in the weather today announce deeper shifts in climate as global warming gets stronger and stronger. Events presented as natural catastrophes are actually brought about by mankind and will become more commonplace every year. We are talking about the 2015 fires that have ravaged 900,000 acres and killed 9 people in California. We are talking about Typhoon Meranti, which has killed 45 people and caused $2,6 billion worth of damage in 2016. We are not talking about hoaxes, we are talking about dead serious catastrophes that kill, maim and cost billions of dollars in repairs. And they are going to get more and more commonplace, according to the authors of the study. Theses climate experts assure that the floods, wildfires, droughts, storms and heat waves will be twice as numerous by 2050 if the Paris deal is honoured and that it would take a much greater effort to prevent this climate disruption. And to say there are some who advocate reneging on the Paris deal agreements !

The fossil fuel sector is to blame for his huge carbon emissions[edit | edit source]

Of course the fossil fuel sector carries most of the blame because it is its activity that is responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions of the world. A quick look at the data behind the greenhouse effect makes that statement crystal clear. According to the EPA, 65 % of all the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, that comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels. So clearly, the fossil fuel sector is responsible for the emissions of the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. That can also be seen when global emissions are broken down by economic sectors. 25 % of all greenhouse gases come from electricity and heat production, that use oil, gas or coal as fuel. 21 % of the emissions comes from the industrial sector that also burns up fossil fuels to obtain energy or heat for its production. Finally, 14 % of the emissions come from the transportation sector. Cars, planes and boats mostly run on gasoline pr diesel and that comes directly from the fossil fuel sector. So the activity of fossil fuel corporations is the primary cause of global warming, that will affect the whole planet, and on top of that, they have been earning truly indecent profits from their activities. In 2012, the earnings of the fossil fuel companies operating in the U.S or Canada amounted to $331 billion. That's more than the GDP of the Philippines, a country where more than 100 million people live ! Even more shocking, these companies have received $5.3 trillion in subsidies in 2015, which is $10 million every minute ! We have been rewarding the very companies that are making the climate change so radically that it might reshape the coasts of every continent and kill half the species in the world, mankind included !  

Fossil fuel corporations are also to blame for their constant fight against policies that could mitigate global warming[edit | edit source]

In addition to their direct contribution to global warming, fossil fuel companies are also guilty on a second count, they have consistently worked against policies that could have mitigated global warming in the past decades, when there was still enough time to change direction, and they are still spending insane ressources making sure environmental policies don't erode their gigantic profits. The biggest and dirtiest example of this strategy are been brought to light last year when reporters from InsideClimateNews revealed that ExxonMobil had knowledge that carbon dioxide was leading to global warming as early as 1977. Of course, this knowledge didn't convince the company that it should reorient its activities toward cleaner energies ! It had quite the opposite consequence, it encouraged Exxon to fight the scientific research on this topic in order to stall the implementation of policies that could have a negative impact on its bottom line. Today, fossil fuel corporations still fund front organisations than minimize the responsibility of human activity in global warming and that advocate using fossil fuels for the sake of America's economy. The main actors in this field are the Koch brothers, notorious fossil fuel company leaders, and lavish funders of the Republican party. In 2012, they had spent $400 million on Mitt Romney's candidacy as well as Republican candidates for the Senate and the House of representatives. While Donald Trump hasn't won their support for the 2016 presidential race, the Koch brothers are not sitting idle and they are funding massively Republican candidate for Congress, such as Joe Heck, who has received no less than $6 million for his race to become senator of Nevada. Of course, this might have something to do with the fact that the seat was up to 2016 held by Harry Reid, a Democrat who has made sure the public knew everything there was to know about the Koch brothers and their rôle in American politics. This is what happens election after election, and it must be brought to an end. The influence of fossil fuel money over U.S politics must be annihilated in order to address immediately the issue at hand : stopping the global warming trend and going beyond the pledges made at the Paris conference.