With 2º C target 'there’s no free lunch'
Scientists just undermined a key idea behind the Paris climate talksBy Chris Mooney
December 7, Washington Post
As the climate negotiations in Paris proceed, many might be surprised to learn that the goal of all of this is not for the world to agree on new emissions cuts. Rather, countries have already pledged to make cuts on their own, and the task of the Paris meeting is to forge an agreement that will ensure that they are clear and transparent about these pledges and whether they’re achieving them, and that the pledges become considerably more ambitious over time.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that warming stays “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to one option in a recent draft agreement text — and many countries want to hold it even lower than that. The current pledges, the United Nations has said repeatedly, are not strong enough to ensure that goal. So the pledges simply have to get tougher.
However, there’s a problem. In two separate new studies just out in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change, scientists challenge both the 2 degree Celsius target — which was originally proposed back in the 1990s, and has since become nearly omnipresent in the climate discussion — and also one of the key tools that may be needed to get us there: so-called “negative emissions” technologies, which would remove carbon dioxide directly from the air.