Is 450 ppm an Implausible Target?
Research on “committed emissions,” the fossil fuels countries have committed to burn based on the energy infrastructure they’ve installed, suggests that “the prospect of keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide levels below 450 ppm is now essentially zero,” PhD student Robert Wilson suggested in the days leading up to the UN Climate Summit in New York.
In the next decade, atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions will reach or exceed 420 parts per million (ppm), “and our committed emissions will push us beyond 440 ppm,” Wilson writes. A “hopeful scenario of not building any fossil fuel infrastructure a decade from now, however, is simply not credible.”
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So “who now believes that we can successfully keep atmospheric carbon dioxide levels below 450 parts per million? Do you? It used to be said that two pints of beer would be enough to get a climate scientist to admit this was no longer possible. Now I suspect you would just need a Diet Coke.”