By early 2029, the world is likely to breach a key tipping point, an increase in 1.5 degrees of warming, the internationally agreed temperature limit for global warming, if fossil fuels continue to burn at their current rate, a new study says. The study moves the date three years closer.
The study, led by Imperial College London researchers, provides the latest comprehensive analysis of the world’s carbon budget, which is an estimate of the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be emitted while keeping global warming below certain temperature limits, a press statement elaborated.
According to the Paris Agreement, an increase in global temperature should be well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and the world should focus on efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. The remaining carbon budget assesses progress against these targets. The new study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that there are less than 250 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide remaining in the carbon budget for even a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
In the study, the researchers warn that if carbon dioxide emissions remain at 2022 levels of about 40 gigatonnes per year, the world will exhaust the carbon budget by around 2029, thus, breaching the set limit of 1.5°C of warming.
“The lack of progress on emissions reduction means that we can be ever more certain that the window for keeping warming to safe levels is rapidly closing,” study lead author Robin Lamboll said in the statement.
The findings also highlight that the budget has been approximately halved since 2020 because of the increase in global greenhouse emissions and is now less than previously calculated. This is because of the burning of fossil fuels as well as well as the progress made towards reducing a type of air pollution, tiny smoky particles called aerosols. Aerosols slightly cool the planet and mask the effects of burning coal, oil and natural gas, a Press Trust of India report explained.
“It's not that the fight against climate change will be lost after six years, but I think probably if we're not already on a strong downward trajectory, it'll be too late to fight for that 1.5 degree limit,” Lamboll added.
The study also warned that if carbon dioxide emissions continue at current levels, the carbon budget to keep the temperature increase within 2°C will be exhausted by 2046.