Fossil fuel expansion threatens climate targets

A new report has found that existing or planned fossil fuel energy projects means 1.5 degree warming target is impossible as Extinction Rebellion gear up for more action.

Carbon emissions from existing and planned fossil fuel energy projects means limiting global temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees will not be possible, according to a new report.

Published this week in the prestigious science journal Nature, the report stated that emissions must approach zero by 2050 in order to meet the international targets agreed at the Paris Climate Talks.  

But it found that the 1.5 degree warming limit is already impossible with the forecasted emissions, and at the current projected rate of expansion, two thirds of the carbon budget that would mean a temperature rise of two degrees are already accounted for. 

Fossil fuel
Planned fossil fuel projects mean climate targets are threatened.

If global temperatures rise by two degrees, rather than 1.5, almost all coral reefs will become extinct, millions more people will be displaced by sea levels rising, as well as extreme heat, and twice as many plants, and three times as many animals, will lose their habitats.

Food production is already being affected by more extreme weather patterns, while volatile production of commodity crops such as wheat and maize would lead to widespread food insecurity. 

Emissions from intensive agriculture have previously been highlighted by other reports as ways to reduce global warming, but the Nature report puts the energy sector firmly in the spotlight.  

Writing on Twitter, science writer Mark Lynas said that in order to meet even the two degree warming target, there needs to be “no new coal or gas power plants, anywhere, ever”, alongside an immediate transition to fully electric and a “massive renewables and nuclear deployment.”

Despite annual climate talks and international agreements, researchers at the University of East Anglia found that global carbon emissions rose by more than two per cent in 2018, an all-time high.

It comes amid renewed pressure on the government in the UK by climate activists Extinction Rebellion, who staged a huge protest march at Glastonbury Festival last weekend.

The group have another national week of protests planned for mid July, with direct action taking place in cities across the UK.

The government responded to the last wave of action by declaring a climate emergency, but has since been criticised after an investigation by environmental journalism outlet DeSmog UK found that the UK invested almost £2 billion in fossil fuel projects overseas during 2018.

3 Comments

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  1. If the whole of the population of UK achieved zero carbon emissions we still only represent 1% of the world’s population. How are we going to convince the other 99% to do the same thing? We are well past the point of no return, it is now up to nature to finish off what we have started. I just pray that the animals we love and admire now can survive, even if we don’t.

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    1. Johnisher
      please don’t despair. A quick read of Tim Berners-Lee’s book ‘There is no planet B’, just might give you a way forward. And try Izzy Tree’s amazing account of her project, ‘Wilding’.

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  2. It’s the old how-do-you-eat-an-elephant? thing. And the world does tend to watch us, We are still one of the richest countries and a great many other lands speak our language, which should help to get the message across. If we sort the technical issues, with our high level tech resources and soft power, the how-to can be exported worldwide. I’m going to our parish council tomorrow to plead for much much more local tree-planting on a new basis: all those unwanted seedling trees and thinnings from plantations should be carefully transplanted as they are an unused resource.
    As a grandparent, even if we don’t succeed completely, we must do every scrap we can to mitigate the damage for the sake of today’s children.
    So, dear JohnIsher, please don’t abandon the struggle because it seems too hard. I’ve just read a book about carbon footprint etc only a few years old, and it’s amazing how far we HAVE come since then. I have no plan to travel by plane again ever. I’ve found a butcher selling lamb raised and slaughtered within 20 miles. Chin up and keep at it-if you’re commenting on here you have the knowledge to encourage your neighbours, everyone you meet, in the right directions of change.

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