The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth assessment of the Earth’s climate which asserted “95 percent” certainty that global warming was man made while receiving criticism for glossing over the lack of significant warming in the last 15 years.
One highly contentious paragraph in the report states that society cannot emit more than one trillion tons of carbon dioxide for global temperatures not to warm more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
“[F]or warming due to CO2 emissions alone to be likely less than 2°C at the time CO2 emissions cease, total cumulative emissions from all anthropogenic sources over the entire industrial era would need to be limited to about… one trillion tonnes of carbon,” reads the report.
More than half of this carbon allowance has been used, according to the New York Times, and the report’s authors noted that carbon emissions would have to be limited even more than one trillion tons once other greenhouse gases other than carbon are taken into account.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Thomas F. Stocker, IPCC co-chairman. “In short, it threatens our planet, our only home.”
UN scientists have not so subtly suggested that countries effectively limit their economic development, since the carbon-intensive energy is the main driver behind rapid industrialization in developing nations like China and India. This suggestion of a global carbon cap was not welcomed by developing nations who fear that their share of the emissions “pie” would be diminished through bullying from developed countries.
“Despite a concerted disinformation campaign to the contrary, there has been no increase in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts over the past 50 years—a period over which we supposedly used half of our carbon budget for all time,” economist David Kreutzer of the conservative Heritage Foundation told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The UN’s recommendations will underlie the next round of international climate negotiations in 2015, where delegates have agreed to come up with a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol. However, disagreements over how to compensate curbing economic growth in poor countries derailed last year’s talks.
“Agreeing on worldwide carbon emission caps is much, much easier than setting country-by-country limits,” Kreutzer added. “In any event, actually implementing the caps will be extremely costly and provide dubious benefits.”
Despite this, politicians and scientists are pushing forward and urging that the world adopt emissions limits.
“The IPCC report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said the World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary General Michel Jarraud.
“Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by 12 percent since 1996, yet the global mean temperature has remained flat,” said Myron Ebell, director of international energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “If the climate is not as sensitive to CO2, as appears to be the case, this means that the IPCC’s calculations are way off. This means that the world does not need to be put on an energy starvation diet in order to prevent dangerous interference with the climate.”