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We Have Three Years To Act On Climate Change Before It's Too Late, Say Researchers

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29/06/2017 7:23 PM AEST | Updated 29/06/2017 7:23 PM AEST

We have just three years to turn the tide on climate change and safeguard the future of our planet, according to a group of scientists.

According to a Carbon Tracker report, should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, and the 2015 UN Sustainable Development goals, would become unattainable.

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The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall in the next three years.

But not acting before 2020, would see us resign ourselves to the equivalent of a ‘crash diet’ forcing the global economy to adapt instantly, rather than following a smoother transition.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and a signatory on the article, said: “2020 is a hard deadline. There’s no turning back if we don’t bend the emissions curve within three years...there are no jobs on a dead planet.”

Greenhouse-gas emissions are already decoupling from production and consumption; in the past three years, global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have levelled after rising for decades, as HuffPost UK reported, 2016 was the first time that renewable energy overtook fossil fuels.

Accounting for more than half of the world’s electrical capacity, according to report from the International Energy Agency, renewables are also being adopted faster than ever before.

And the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that renewable sources could deliver 26–27% of the world’s electricity needs by the three-year deadline if action is taken.

But this is no time to rest on our achievements, as there is still a long way to go, especially as President Donald Trump  announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris agreement when it is legally able to do so, in November 2020.

Instead the team of scientists on the report, published in Nature journal, have set out six goals that are integral to meeting the 2020 goal, saying: “These goals may be idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst. However, we are in the age of exponential transformation and think that such a focus will unleash ingenuity. By 2020, [this is] where the world needs to be.”

Renewables need to make up at least 30% of the world’s electricity supply and electric vehicles need to make up 15% of new car sales.

We need to reduce deforestation, and half emissions from carbon-intensive industries by 2050, as well as fully decarbonising all buildings and infrastructure.

And the financial sector needs to mobilise and ringfence at least $1 trillion a year for climate action.

The authors of the paper include a number of researchers, state and local government officials (including the governor of California), and heads of climate change focused organisations.

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