With the Paris climate talks fast approaching (they're in early December), many governments around the world have been making relatively respectable moves to reduce cabin emissions -- presumably as a sign of good faith in the talks, and also for PR/diplomatic reasons. How much have these moves actually helped, though?
According to a new report from Climate Interactive and the MIT Sloan School of Business, all of the carbon emissions reductions pledges made in recent months have indeed "bought" the world some time extra time to further reduce carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change -- not much time, but still,"not much" is more than none.
To provide some background here -- current conventional wisdom in the scientific community says that, in order to avoid "dangerous-to-catastrophic" climate change, the degree of warming over pre-industrial levels will have to be limited to under 2° Celsius. Some say, though, that even these levels of warming will lead to extreme disruption to current ways of living.
Climate Progress provides more:
"The good news, as you can see, is that the INDCs have bought us another five to 10 years of staying close to the 2°C path. I asked Andrew Jones, one of the systems-thinking savants behind Climate Interactive, if that was correct and he said, 'Yep, about 7 years.' By 'staying close,' I mean staying close enough to the 2°C path that it remains plausibly achievable — though (obviously) politically still very, very challenging.
"Of course, like all emissions models, the Climate Interactive model makes assumptions about what is a plausibly achievable 2°C path given how long we have delayed acting. And that involves deciding how fast the world could plausibly cut its greenhouse gas emissions each year — sustained for many decades. They use 3.5% to 4% a year. That is mostly a political-economic judgment, since there is no real way of knowing how fast humanity could act once we become truly desperate to avoid multiple simultaneous catastrophes that are irreversible on a timescale of many centuries.
"The point is that a successful outcome of Paris will not 'solve the climate problem' and indeed won’t give us a 2°C world, as anyone who is paying attention understands. (Sadly, a lot of folks in the media aren't paying attention.)"
While the upcoming talks will no doubt be quite interesting to follow, regardless of the specific plans that get hashed out, the actual space to watch is what's put into practice. It's easy to "commit" to something, but if actions don't follow...