Despite earlier projections, the world needs to almost completely decarbonize within only the next 30-35 years if there is to be any chance to deal with climate change effectively, according to a new report from Climate Council.
This entails, of course, that a substantial majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remained in the ground and unused... (Something that is fairly hard to imagine actually happening in the real-world, to my mind).
The new report makes a similar argument to many other recent papers and reports, which is the idea that a 2° Celsius rise in temperature being "safe" is a mistaken one. Such a rise would result in significant challenges to the modern world and ways of living.
Given that most official decarbonization goals around the world call for decarbonization to occur at a rate that wouldn't see a greater than 2° Celsius prevented, changes will need to be made if climate change is to be addressed in time to prevent large-scale disruptions to the industrial world.
The new report -- Growing Risks, Critical Choices -- notes: “The scientific underpinning for the 2°C policy target being a ‘safe’ level of climate change is now weaker than it was a decade ago. The scientific case for a 1.5°C limit is more consistent with our current level of understanding, bolstering the case for even more urgent action.”
Many country's goals are nowhere near stringent enough to even meet projections of what's needed in order to remain under 2° Celsius in warming, much less under 1.5° Celsius in warming.
Australia is a good example. Current goals call for emissions to be reduced by only 26-28% by 2030 (from 2005 levels). That's nowhere near "complete decarbonization." But the country is set to experience significant disruptions in the near future. As the report notes, from 2020 onwards, the country will experience an increase in drought frequency significant enough to reduce GDP by 1% a year.
“The more we learn about climate change, the riskier it looks. The climate change landscape today stands in stark contrast to where it stood four years ago. Halfway through the Critical Decade, many consequences of climate change are already evident, and the risks posed by further climate change are better understood," the report notes.
“It is clear that global society must almost completely decarbonize in the next 30-35 years, or sooner if possible, to tackle the climate change challenge effectively. This means that the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground.”