The latest in the global warming debate, the world’s largest-ever emissions cap was set at a rate of about 450 billion tonnes a year in 2030, but a study published on Wednesday by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Oxford showed that the target could be exceeded by 2070.
The study, published in the journal Energy Policy, found that the UK could meet its 2030 emissions target if all other economies around the world followed suit.
In 2030, we are aiming to reduce emissions by a further 40% compared with 2030, IIASA’s director-general, Dr David Leith, said.
“We have made great progress on our emissions reduction targets.
But there is still much more to do, and we must continue to meet our ambitious targets in the face of a global warming challenge,” he said.
The report found that, at current emissions levels, the UK would need to reduce its emissions by an average of 9.4 tonnes a day over the next 15 years.
The institute’s study, titled ‘How We Are Building a Sustainable Future: How We Are Changing the Way We Think About Climate Change’, found that although it is unlikely to reach the 2020 targets, the country could achieve a similar result in 2030.
Dr Leith said that the study was “clearly not based on a credible scenario” and said the UK had to look at the “big picture” of the world, as well as the economic and social impacts.
Britain, the institute said, had an opportunity to build on this by: setting an ambitious target for the global carbon budget, engaging in carbon neutral growth, and making a commitment to invest in clean technologies.
The report was written by Professor Andrew Sutton, a senior research fellow at the IEA and the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
It was published in collaboration with the Carbon Brief.
Professor Sutton said the report was based on an analysis of three scenarios for the 2020-2030 period.
These scenarios involved a continued rise in global emissions to 450 billion tons a year, which would see the UK’s emissions cut by at least 2.6 billion tonnes over the same period.
The scenarios, based on current levels of emissions, would see emissions rise to 854 billion tonnes in 2030 and reach 915 billion tonnes by 2060.
However, the report said that if the UK continued with its current trajectory, the number of people on the planet who could be exposed to extreme heatwaves, droughts and other risks would increase by as much as five times.
To achieve its 2020 target, the government would have to cut emissions by around 6.5 million tonnes a month by 2030, or more than double the reduction in emissions that it is currently achieving.
But the report found it would be impossible to achieve the target by 2040, given that other nations around the globe are likely to do the same, and that the world will not meet its 2020 emissions reduction target until the 2030s.
A report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in March showed that if all countries in the world adopted a carbon intensity-based target of 2°C (3.6°F) warming, the average global temperature would rise by 1.6 to 2.4 degrees Celsius (3 to 5.9 degrees Fahrenheit).
“In 2030 we will have an opportunity for Britain to set an ambitious, sustainable target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr Leith.
“But if we do not do so, the impacts of global warming will continue to increase.
We must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2030 or we will not be able do the ambitious targets we are seeking.”