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Mapping Out Deep Carbon Cuts

Jul 09, 2014 01:05 PM EDT
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Climate researchers and economic experts have pooled their knowledge to draw up a map of what actions leading countries should take in the battle against man-driven carbon emissions.

In a recent report from a United Nations (UN) scientific initiative, experts severely criticized the world's leading nations for not doing enough about greenhouse gas emissions - namely carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - saying that governments were "gambling" with the fate of the world by not taking drastic action.

However, these experts - from 15 countries and 30 reputable scientific institutions - weren't simply wagging their fingers as the Socratic gadflies of the climate change debate.

In a preliminary report entitled "Deep Decarbonization Pathways," from the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), these experts describe how exactly carbon emissions in developed countries can make drastic cuts.

"The world has committed to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius, but it has not committed to the practical ways to achieve that goal," Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN, said in a recent statement. "This report is all about the practicalities. Success will be tough - the needed transformation is enormous - but is feasible, and is needed to keep the world safe for us and for future generations.  One key message is to invest in developing the low-carbon technologies that can make a difference."

According to the report, the United States, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and the United Kingdom will need to cut their emissions by 60 percent by 2050 in order to keep global average temperature under an additional two degrees C cap set in 2010.

These countries make up 63 percent of the world's emissions, according to a past study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

In order to achieve this goal, the report details how leading countries will need to focus on four changes.

First, electricity generation will need to become more green. China is already on top of this, as the world leader in renewable energy growth, but many countries, primarily the United States, Germany and India, still produce the most electricity at the cost of burning fuel such as coal.

Second, the transportation sector needs to make a quick shift to pure electric vehicles - potentially helped along with government incentives. The report lists its third objective as ramping up energy efficiency across the board, a goal that can only be met with advances in technologies.

Lastly, greater efforts must be aimed at preventing deforestation. As one of the world's most efficient CO2 sinks, the report calls forests an invaluable resource.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon commented on the report this past Tuesday, saying that "ambitious national action is critical to averting dangerous climate change and this report shows what is possible."

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