No One Should Want Their Children To Live In This ‘Bleak’ Future

In Environment On
- Updated

THE U.N. Environment Program released its latest report last week on where we are and where we need to be on addressing climate change. The word the authors chose to describe humanity’s future: “bleak.”

“Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global [greenhouse gas] emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required,” the report found. The hope that global emissions of heat-trapping gases might level out with the increasing use of natural gas in the United States and energy intensity improvements in China turned out to be too optimistic. After temporarily leveling out, emissions continued their rise. That includes in the United States, where Republicans’ various excuses for inaction — such as that the natural gas boom showed that government policy was unnecessary to cut emissions — ring more hollow than ever.

By the end of the next decade, greenhouse emissions must be a quarter lower than they were last year to enable humanity to keep the world below 2 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. Otherwise, the only option to avoid breaching that threshold would be an extremely expensive crash decarbonization program. To keep the world below 1.5 degrees would require cutting emissions by more than half by 2030.

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