Three years left to change the future of the planet

Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres explained how the year 2020 will be crucial for the battle against climate change

climate change

The next three years are vital, not only on a political aspect (President Donald Trump will be legally able to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement in November 2020) but also in terms of overall health and wellbeing.

One may assume climate change is a slow phenomenon. However, the small window of opportunity of being able to change its effects is quite narrow. If emissions continue to rise pass the year 2020, or even remain at a plateau, the temperature goals stablished by the Paris Agreement will become almost unreachable.

Between 150 and 1.050 gigatons of CO2 is the the maximum amount of carbon credit available for humanity before the temperature limit is breached. If the world continues emitting at its current rate of 41 Gt of CO2 per year, the lower threshold of this range may be exceeded in 4 years; the middle point (600 Gt of CO2) in fifteen. Once we surpass this limit, economies will be forced, almost immediately (and most unlikely), to cut emissions down to zero.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research,
stated: “The math is brutally clear; while the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence [before] 2020”.

However, even though average temperatures have risen, carbon dioxide emissions have stayed mostly the same for the past three years. Nations, such as China and India, are taking steps towards renewables and natural gas while progressively reducing coal as a source of energy. Although there is still a long way to go becoming a decarbonized global economy, current emissions show how national policies and efforts are gradually paying off. Let’s just hope it is not too late.

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Iguavita
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto