LONDON: Focusing efforts almost exclusively on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as most governments are currently doing, can no longer prevent global temperatures from exceeding pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees Celsius, warns a new study.
But if we simultaneously reduce emissions of methane and other often overlooked climate pollutants, we could halve the rate of global warming by 2050 and give the world a fighting chance, found the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. .
Reducing carbon alone may not be enough to keep temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius. To slow short-term warming and reduce the suffering caused by steadily increasing heat waves, droughts, superstorms and fires, short-lived climate pollutants must also be reduced.
“Decarbonization is crucial to meeting our long-term climate goals, but it’s not enough,” said Drew Shindell, professor of earth sciences at Duke University.
“Our analysis shows that climate pollutants such as methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon soot, low level ozone and hydrofluorocarbons contribute almost as much to global warming as longer-lived CO2.
“Since most of them last only a short time in the atmosphere, cutting them off will slow warming faster than any other mitigation strategy,” Shindell said.
Recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have predicted that decarbonizing the energy system and shifting to clean energy in isolation could result in perversely rising temperatures for some time because, in In addition to CO2, fossil fuel emissions contain sulfate aerosols, which act to cool the climate for a very short period – days to weeks – before dissipating.
The new study takes this effect into account and concludes that focusing exclusively on reducing fossil fuel emissions could lead to “near-term weak warming”, which could potentially cause temperatures to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2035 and the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius by 2035. 2050.
By contrast, reducing CO2 and other climate pollutants simultaneously would significantly improve our chances of staying below the 1.5 degree Celsius mark, the researchers said.