2020 deadline to avert climate catastrophe: experts

June 28, 2017 by Marlowe Hood
After rising for decades, global emissions of carbon dioxide driven by the burning of fossil fuels have levelled off during the last two years at about 41 billion tonnes a year

Humanity must put carbon dioxide emissions on a downward slope by 2020 to have a realistic shot at capping global warming at well under two degrees Celsius, the bedrock goal of the Paris climate accord, experts said Wednesday.

A world that heats up beyond that threshold will face a crescendo of devastating impacts ranging from deadly heatwaves to mass migration caused by rising seas, the experts warned in a commentary published in the science journal Nature.

With 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming so far, ice sheets that could lift oceans by a dozen metres are melting more quickly, coral reefs are dying from heat stress, and ever more damaging storm surges are hammering coastal communities.

The transition to cleaner energy sources is well underway and is backed by broad consensus on the need to beat back the threat of change—with the notable exception of the United States under President Donald Trump.

After rising for decades, global emissions of carbon dioxide driven by the burning of fossil fuels have levelled off during the last two years at about 41 billion tonnes per year.

But even at this rate the planet's "carbon budget"—the amount of CO2 that can be released into the atmosphere without crossing the 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) red line—would be used up within a couple of decades, perhaps sooner.

"There is a long way to go to decarbonise the world economy," according to the commentary signed by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, three top , and two sustainability experts from the business sector.

"When it comes to climate, timing is everything," they wrote.

The authors called on leaders set to gather at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8 to highlight 2020 as a make-or-break point for taking action.

But after Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, signed by 196 parties, and his refusal to join a climate consensus at a G7 summit in late May, such an outcome seems doubtful.

A number of benchmarks should be met by 2020, according to the commentary.

Renewable energy—mainly wind and solar—must make up at least 30 percent of the world's electricity supply, it said. Moreover, no additional coal-fired power plants should be approved after that date.

In the transport sector, electric vehicles—which currently represent one percent of new car sales—should account for 15 percent of the market by that date.

Governments should also require a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles, and a 20 percent drop in pollution per kilometre travelled in the aviation sector.

Still climbing sharply, CO2 from the aviation industry account for about two percent of all human-generated emissions.

Greenhouse gases from deforestation and agriculture, currently about 12 percent of the global total, must be cut to zero within a decade, the experts wrote.

They also called for concrete measures to curb carbon emitted by heavy industry, as well as by buildings and infrastructure.

Finally, governments and banks must ramp up by tenfold the amount of "green bonds" used to finance CO2-cutting measures, currently about $81 billion (71 billion euros.)

Explore further: Energy chief: Carbon dioxide not prime driver of warming

More information: Three years to safeguard our climate, Nature (2017). nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/546593a

Press release

Related Stories

Energy chief: Carbon dioxide not prime driver of warming

June 19, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with mainstream scientific consensus but in line with the head of the Environmental ...

What if US quits climate deal? Doesn't look good for Earth

May 27, 2017

Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming even sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge to cut carbon dioxide pollution, scientists said. That's because America contributes so much to rising temperatures.

Banks profiting from coal despite climate alarm: report

December 2, 2015

The world's biggest banks are ploughing hundreds of billions of dollars into coal mining despite claiming to be leaders in the fight against climate change, according to a report issued at a UN conference Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Mysterious deep-Earth seismic signature explained

November 22, 2017

New research on oxygen and iron chemistry under the extreme conditions found deep inside the Earth could explain a longstanding seismic mystery called ultralow velocity zones. Published in Nature, the findings could have ...

Scientists dispute missing dryland forests

November 21, 2017

Scientists are disputing the possibility that a significant portion of the world's forests have been missed in an earlier accounting of ecological diversity.

43 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

aksdad
3.3 / 5 (12) Jun 28, 2017
Yawn. How many missed deadlines to avert climate catastrophes are we up to now? We're still waiting for those promised climate catastrophes to happen...
Da Schneib
2.7 / 5 (7) Jun 28, 2017
Simple as this: it's already too late. This is going to cost the economy $trillions, and your children will pay (as will you if you're younger than 30). The longer you fight it the more it will cost.

Enjoy. Me, I don't care. I don't expect to live long enough for it to really screw up my life. Getting really tired of fighting with the #climatecranks. You elected #orangejebus, now live with it. Looks like he's going to take your jobs and healthcare too.
ddaye
3 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2017

Me, I don't care. I don't expect to live long enough for it to really screw up my life.

The very definition of conservatism.
philstacy9
2 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2017
toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat.

http://www.nation...n-energy
howhot3
2.7 / 5 (7) Jun 29, 2017
@Assdad says;
Yawn. How many missed deadlines to avert climate catastrophes are we up to now? We're still waiting for those promised climate catastrophes to happen

I'm not sure which news cycle you missed, but Phoenix just baked at 125F a couple of days ago. An *all* time record. Well, not a catastrophe but it is an indicator where the thermometer is pointing.

CO2 science of all types. Facts man; real honest to goodness facts.
https://scripps.u...ngcurve/

So yeah... by 2020 it could be all over; done man. Toast. Lost to stupidity. THE ODDS FAVOR THAT CERTAINTY!
howhot3
3 / 5 (6) Jun 29, 2017
Let me also add the following; Here is 166 years worth of global temp measurements. Click the image for a 12MB High res image.
http://www.climat...ore-4670

So yeah man. We are so close to being toast. The year 2020 will be just the beginning of a very hot 2000 year period.
Bart_A
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 29, 2017
howhot is a good example of why many of us don't believe and go along with the climate alarmists.
dirk_bruere
4.5 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
The only thing holding back mass adoption of electric vehicles is battery tech, and that should be fixed within 5 years. As for solar, it has now dropped (in India) to 65 cents per installed watt, unsubsidized. Cheaper than coal.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
Philstacy - the article you reference is rubbish. Comparing cadmium, chromium, lead waste from used solar panels - with plutonium waste from a nuclear reactor is blatant dishonesty. Now add to the fact that only about 9 % of current solar panels contain these elements - https://en.wikipe...et-share The majority of solar panels made today are made with silicon. Finally - solar panels can be recycled - and countries like Japan are developing recycling standards. Recycling panels is going to be a profitable business - so it looks good that we will adopt wide scale recycling. Europe has already established recycling requirements and standards.
Benni
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 29, 2017
Heyyyyyyy, another new end of the world date........2020 !!!!!!!!

Isn't 2020 also the next presidential election year? So that must be what they're really talking about, and the world's ecosystems know this are are preparing for the re-election of Trump and are preparing to act accordingly !!!!! You just knew there had to be a connection.

Steve_S2
5 / 5 (5) Jun 29, 2017
toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat.

Ahh but no problem with mountains of Coal Ash, holding tanks / reservoirs with spent Nuclear Fuel Rods which require 100,000 + years of secured / safe storage and sites like Hanford posing major public health risks...
Steve_S2
4 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
The RAILCAR analogy fits this situation pretty well but unfortunately it is too obvious & simple for many to grasp.

- Take 1, freight car, load 50 tonnes into it.
- Set that railcar on a long flat rail line and leave the brakes off.
- Put 3 burly lads on one end and have them start pushing on it, it will start to move with effort.
- Once moving, let them push harder & harder to gain momentum... get to fast walk pace. (were we are now with climate change).
- NOW, send those 3 Burly Lads to the front and get them to TRY and stop it ! What happens ?
- now put 10 Burly lads in front... no luck, try 20 ! not working, try 30.

We have pushed & pushed on the climate & environment. We have built dams, dried up rivers, created deserts, deforested huge amounts of land, burnt just about everything that can burn and dumped heaps of garbage into the oceans, lakes & rivers... THAT IS MASSIVE MOMENTUM and to try and fight that now... after 150 years of dumping.
MR166
3 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
Remember this article?

Why is climate change such a hard sell in the US?

Now look at this article and see if you find any connection between the two.

The tipping point will be reached not in 2019 or 2021 but precisely in 2020. I wonder why the author is not telling us the date also.
MR166
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 29, 2017
I just looked it up, the tipping point will come on March 31, 2020.
Benni
3 / 5 (6) Jun 29, 2017
I just looked it up, the tipping point will come on March 31, 2020.


All those emergency dried foods I have stacked away will save my family. I have gold & silver because cash will be worthless............now let's see here, I need to have all the dried foods eaten by March 30, 2020 because if I don't just think of all the stuff that will go waste under a watery grave, the gold & silver also will need to be sold to the next sucker at an exorbitant profit. Then on April 1st the author of this article will be right back here explaining why it was all an April fool's day joke.
Turgent
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 29, 2017
Read the paper. There is no science here. This is global warming religious mambo jumbo and incantations. AGWists need to establish standards how how much the climate has warmed, the oceans will rise, etc. Like the public employee unions they need to establish a grand temple in Washington DC to promote AGW standards and special interest action groups. AGW is also an industry as 50% of the US corn corp is subsidized for fuel. This is economically and morally wrong.
snoosebaum
Jun 29, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MR166
3 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
"i must buy a snow plow "

Well if you live near a US university they are handy for clearing away the B.S. also.
greenonions1
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 29, 2017
Well if you live near a US university they are handy for clearing away the B.S. also.
Trump university has a huge pile.

Why is climate change such a hard sell in the US?

Now look at this article and see if you find any connection between the two.
You must have read my mind. I was reading the comments section - and I had exactly the same thought.
Benni
3 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2017
"Governments should also require a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles, and a 20 percent drop in carbon dioxide pollution per kilometre travelled in the aviation sector."

Read more at: https://phys.org/...html#jCp

How cute can the Author be? Look how He/She came up with the year 2020: 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency + 20 percent drop in carbon dioxide = 2020............I'm only left to wondering if the author is referencing CE (Common era)?
MR166
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 30, 2017
"Trump university has a huge pile. "

You are right about that. But his fraud pales in comparison to our colleges and universities with 10s if not 100s of thousands of graduates having useless degrees, six figure student loan debts, a job that could be performed by a HS student and living in their mothers basement.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jun 30, 2017
. Getting really tired of fighting with the #climatecranks.

Then don't. They are a small minority of humanity (just some percentage of US citizens). It's perfectly fine to ignore them. They don't matter.

While it would be nice to think that everyone is in favor of humanity it's actually not a problem if some are not. Just vote with your wallet. Buy a renewables energy plan from your energy provider. Invest in an efficient car or an EV. Buy products produced with clean energy. (I hope that some countries will soon put the energy mix for their products on the label).
bschott
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 30, 2017
While it would be nice to think that everyone is in favor of humanity it's actually not a problem if some are not

Only a delusional mind would think that not believing the questionable science behind a money grabbing agenda = not "favoring" humanity.
Just vote with your wallet.

You do realize I hope, that not everyone gets to vote, and not everyone has a wallet. But thanks for confirming the money grabbing agenda...and for doing your part to push it on everyone.
Buy a renewables energy plan from your energy provider.

We already did...check this bullshit out...http://m.torontosun.com/2017/06/29/1b-worth-of-energy-wasted-last-year-engineers
Invest in an efficient car or an EV. Buy products produced with clean energy. (I hope that some countries will soon put the energy mix for their products on the label).

Goody, more "tweaked" numbers from one of the many scientific (political) frauds we are experiencing. Thanks.


greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2017
MR
10s if not 100s of thousands of graduates having useless degrees
My wife and I both have advanced degrees - and we are doing well in life. Both sons went to college - one now has and advanced degree - and both doing better than their parents. I guess it depends how good you are at critical thinking. Unfortunately - you and many of your U.S class mates fail miserable in that department - and as you correctly observe - you now have a fraudster running your country. Maybe you need to value science and education more highly. Looks to me like the U.S. is in for a very rough few decades. They will probably eventually catch up with smarter countries - but may have to wait for this generation of religionists to pass on before that happens. Kentucky governor wants to solve crime by praying it away. http://www.altern...uisville Can it get any worse?
Dingbone
Jun 30, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2017
"....and as you correctly observe - you now have a fraudster running your country."

Trump is the least of our countries political problems. It is hard to find a national political figure willing to put the interests of our nation ahead of self interest or the interests of their party.

At least Trump appears to be willing to try to correct that situation. That being said, I am very sad that he wants to continue with a failed Middle East Policy which apparently has been approved by both parties and the media. That scares the crap out of me.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017
At least Trump appears to be willing to try to correct that situation
Surely you jest! The Trumps are crony capitalists - and the Donald is surely the most self serving, egotistic individual on the planet. As you correctly point out - he is a fraudster. He did not write "The Art of the Deal." - but clearly now believes that he did. This is an interesting insight by another fraudster who did write the book - and knows Trump well - http://www.newyor...ells-all Oddly - you reinforce the point on the table. That many Americans are clearly easily fooled - and lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate information for themselves. I begin to understand now how you can exist with such cognitive dissonance - you don't even see it's existence.
Lex Talonis
not rated yet Jul 01, 2017
Another DEAD line, another DEAD line, another DEAD line.....

How about we just elect for DEAD....

Davy_Crockett
5 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017

"...now let's see here, I need to have all the dried foods eaten by March 30, 2020 because if I don't, just think of all the stuff that will go waste under a watery grave..."

No. No. Tipping points are like - you get a call to meet your friends at a bar in 1883. You pull in front of the bar in 1914. You go in to the bar and wait in line in 1938. You order 10 shots of tequila and get them in 1962. You bang the first one in 1967. You bang the second one in 1978. Scientists crowd around and you shake some hands in 1987. You give one out, go to take a P and come back and bang the third one in 1994. You're on the border line to drive in 2011. You schmooze some and bang the fourth one in 2020.
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017
Onions we just went through 8 long years of a president that hated the US and everything that the US stands for. Trump is trying to reverse this damage. But I do realize that you are unable to understand a conservative point of view and can understand why you think that I am "fooled" and not a critical thinker. You do not have the capacity to understand a view different than your own. You have been indoctrinated by a progressive educational system for at least 19 years. I am much older than you and was educated in a much different more conservative system.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
Here in the US about 90% of all educators are Democrats. Democratic educators and politicians most always characterize Republicans as uneducated, ignorant, mentally challenged and uncaring. The pure unadulterated hatred that they have displayed towards the president since November is unprecedented. I have never seen our country more divided. We are almost divided to the point of a civil war.
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017
Oh yea, I forgot to include the US media in the 90% Democrat camp. As far as our colleges and universities are concerned, critical thinking has all but disappeared. Dissenting opinions are considered hate speech and considered a reason to cluster in so called safe spaces.
Benni
1 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017
Oh yea, I forgot to include the US media in the 90% Democrat camp. As far as our colleges and universities are concerned, critical thinking has all but disappeared. Dissenting opinions are considered hate speech and considered a reason to cluster in so called safe spaces.


In addition to this, the same bunch all believe Black Holes & Dark Matter exist, they have no proof for it but Inferred pseudo-Science is the pop-sci culture of alternate reality lifestyles.
MR166
5 / 5 (2) Jul 01, 2017
Ok Benni, you got me there. What do you mean?
antigoracle
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 01, 2017
Hmm....wasn't the AGW Cult predicting that the Polar ice would have long disappeared already.
Benni
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
In addition to this, the same bunch all believe Black Holes & Dark Matter exist, they have no proof for it but Inferred pseudo-Science is the pop-sci culture of alternate reality lifestyles


Ok Benni, you got me there. What do you mean?
.........if it's a fantasy, they believe in it.

MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
Call me gullible but I think that black holes do exist. Dark matter is still just a theory.
greenonions1
not rated yet Jul 01, 2017
Onions we just went through 8 long years of a president that hated the US and everything that the US stands for.
That's a really dumb thing to say - and there is no evidence that would support your stupidity. The economy crashed under Bush - and through the use of tarp - Obama pulled us out of the hole. That is not the behavior of someone who 'hates the U.S.' I comment on your dissonance - not based on knowing anything about your education - but based on your posts. You engage in trolling, you contradict yourself, and you say stupid things like the above quote.
TechnoCreed
not rated yet Jul 01, 2017
@MR166
Trump is trying to reverse this damage.

Let's shed some light on this: http://www.pewglo...dership/
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
"That's a really dumb thing to say - and there is no evidence that would support your stupidity."

As I said Onions, you are totally unable to comprehend a view other than your own. As far as the economy went Obama did the impossible. He doubled the national debt and had nothing to show for it. Any job growth was an illusion created by Obama Care which induced employers to create 2 part time jobs where one full time job once existed.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
Also if you are unhappy with how Obama handled the Middle East please say so. Otherwise I will assume that you think that he did a good job there.
Da Schneib
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2017
Regarding Trump and space, it doesn't appear he has the first idea how space works.

Neither does anyone working for him.

https://www.washi...e7a88bce

Breathe that fresh space air!

Teh stupid it burnz. This is what one expects from a corporation devoted to real estate.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2017
Also if you are unhappy with how Obama handled the Middle East please say so.
I totally disapprove of the U.S. Middle East policy - including that of Bush, Obama, and Trump. So what? The issue on the table is your inane comment that Obama hated the U.S. He actually continued both Bush wars - so does that mean Bush 'hated the U.S? If you want to revise history by discounting the job creation under the Obama administration - go ahead and look stupid. http://www.npr.or...8-charts A quote from the article -
Full-time job growth over the course of the Obama presidency has far outstripped part-time job growth,
Notice how you always make outlandish statements - but never support them. Did you learn that in your Conservative education? Just say things - but don't worry about if they are true or not. Must be the Goebbels school of communication - or is it Trump U?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.