International Report Charts Path to Deep Carbon Cuts

Governments around the world are failing in their commitments to address climate change, a group of international science institutions warn in a new report, saying the window to prevent catastrophic warming will soon close.

"The world is engaged in an unrecognized, massive gamble with the future of the planet," economist and author Jeffrey Sachs warned at a news conference discussing the report, "Deep Decarbonization Pathways."

Produced by 30 scientific institutions from the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gases, the report was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday morning.

Sachs, who directs Columbia University's Earth Institute in New York, said a full report will be released next spring, but the contributors felt it was important to release the interim results now,...

The team found that national governments around the world have "made very little progress in achieving [emissions reductions] and have made insufficient analyses of how to achieve it," says Sachs.

The report lays out four critical initiatives that governments must pursue immediately if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided.

The window to avoid such warming will close in a few years, Sachs warns. To get there, there must be "a deep transformation of the global energy system," says the report.

This "deep transformation" will "depend on technologies that are not yet operating to scale," Sachs says.

Countries must set long-term strategies focused on deep emissions cuts, Sachs says. Setting a price on carbon emissions, as many have suggested, would be a step in the right direction, but is "by far not sufficient," he says.

The ultimate goal of the report is to "get governments to look at the carbon budget and look at the reality of what they have promised," says Sachs. "They have just not done their homework to get there."

But David Victor, one of the lead authors of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in April, told National Geographic that it has been exceedingly difficult for governments to agree on global action.

"Intergovernmental bodies that require consensus are very bad at handling politically difficult topics," Victor says,... [emphasis mine]

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Five years since political leaders from countries around the world committed to do whatever it took to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees above the preindustrial average, no one had taken the trouble, until now, to evaluate how that might be achieved.

Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will [have to be] be electric.

The new assessment also underscores the pointlessness of small, incremental emissions cuts.

... the new assessment suggests that deep decarbonization can be done without breaking any economy.

Blueprints for Taming the Climate Crisis

Tags: Climate Destabilization, deep transformation, long term strategy

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Replies to This Discussion

Significant investments are needed by public-private partnerships in clean technologies, "similar in scope to the Human Genome Project or the moon shot," says [Jeffrey] Sachs. (from the National Geographic article)

The Space Race was spurred by a Dominator Culture competition for superiority between tangible adversaries, the US and the Soviet Union.

In (not) responding to the climate crisis, too many see the "enemy" as environmentalists attacking cherished freedom-to-be-selfish, rather than that business-as-usual threatening our health and life itself. (And not just decades into the future, but beginning now, as with the Central American epidemic of chronic kidney disease.)

Good point, Grinning Cat. The public is totally on board with "Dominator Culture competition for superiority between tangible adversaries". But Dominator Culture is part of the Climate Crisis problem. It's a bigger challenge, not only as a far greater threat,  but requiring cultural flexibility to meet it.

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