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The Center for Human Rights and Environment (CHRE) and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), in a joint effort, recently updated a primer reviewing the latest science on dangerous climate tipping points.
This background note summarizes the science supporting the need for fast near-term climate mitigation, including cuts to short-lived climate pollutants and protection of sinks, to slow feedbacks and tipping points. A 10-year fast mitigation sprint is critical for achieving the 2050 net zero target and otherwise addressing the climate emergency.
- Along the way to achieving the 2050 Net Zero target—or better, a Real Zero target—it is critical to select a pathway that not only reduces CO2 but that also reduces the short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs)—black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and HFC refrigerants—as fast as possible, along with other fast mitigation strategies, including protection of sinks; this is essential for achieving near-term and long-term climate targets, including the 2050 Net Zero target. (SLCPs are often referred to as “super pollutants” because of their potency.)
- Speed must become a key goal for selecting climate solutions, in order to provide the most avoided warming in the shortest period of time over the next decade or two, to slow the self- reinforcing feedbacks and avoid tipping points, and to protect the most vulnerable people and ecosystems.
- The window for effective mitigation to slow feedbacks and avoid tipping points is shrinking to perhaps 10 years or less, including the window to prevent crashing through the 1.5 oC guardrail.
- The world could hit the 1.5 oC guardrail by 2030, due to rising emissions, declining particulate air pollution that unmasks existing warming, and natural climate variability.
- In the five years between 2020–2024, the annual global temperature is expected to be at least 1 oC warmer than the 1850–1900 average (range of 0.91–1.59 oC), with a one-in- four chance that at least one year could be 1.5 oC warmer, even if only temporarily, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
- The three strategies that are essential for keeping the planet safe are: (i) reducing CO2, (ii) reducing short-lived super climate pollutants (SLCPs or super climate pollutants), and (iii) removing up to 1,000 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2100, according to the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 oC.
- Cutting the SLCPs can avoid three times more warming at 2050 than CO2 cuts, reducing projected warming in the Arctic by two-thirds and the rate of global warming by half.