OSLO, (Reuters) – A global goal for limiting climate change is slipping out of reach and governments may have to find ways to artificially suck greenhouse gases from the air if they fail to make deep cuts in rising emissions by 2030, a draft U.N. report said.
A 25-page draft summary, by the U.N. panel of climate experts and due for publication in 2014, said emissions of heat-trapping gases rose to record levels in the decade to 2010, led by Asian industrial growth.
The surge is jeopardising a U.N. goal, set by almost 200 nations in 2010, to limit a rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above levels before the Industrial Revolution, according to the text seen by Reuters yesterday.
The panel, made up hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists, is trying to condense all the peer reviewed findings since 2007 into a summary for policymakers.
Its draft said that if emissions were not checked by 2030, they would be so great that governments would have to take carbon dioxide out of the air to limit rising temperatures by the end of the century – not just cut emissions spewed from cars and factories – a sea change in the approach to climate change. Governments must sign off on the document that emerges from the draft by Working Group Three of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and which will serve as the climate policy road map for the next six or seven years.
Delaying deep cuts until 2030 may make targets for limiting warming by 2100 “physically infeasible without substantial overshoot and negative global emissions … in the second half of the century”, it said.
“Negative emissions” mean policies such as planting more forests that naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow or burning biofuels, for instance wood or farm waste, and capturing and burying their greenhouse gas emissions.
Temperatures are already 0.8 C above pre-industrial levels and creeping higher despite a slowdown since around 2000, perhaps caused by more sun-dimming pollution from nations such as China and India that would reflect heat back into space or by more heat entering the oceans.
Most climate experts say the rising trend will pick up in coming years, though the reasons for the pause are unknown. Parts of Europe are having a late spring, for instance, while Australia suffered record summer heat.