The world needs drastic action to meet Paris climate goals

Wired reports: Last week’s UN climate meeting took place inside six massive, climate-controlled warehouses, on the grounds of France’s oldest commercial airport. That airport is in the suburb of Le Bourget, which itself is part of the Paris metropolitan region—home to some 12 million people and their homes, workplaces, commutes, appetites, and pastimes. With the exception of a small but growing slice powered by renewables, the majority of everything that everybody does in Paris and beyond is powered by fossil fuels.

That’s the electricity powering your computer, Xbox, microwave, refrigerator, and heater. Gas goes in your car, into the trucks that deliver your year-round vegetables, into the ship that brought your hoverboard over from China. Coal provides the heat to make the steel in every building, every train track. It’s essential for concrete, too.

The goal of the Paris climate deal is to keep average global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, and as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible. Let’s assume the best case scenario, compliance-wise. Every nation outdoes their pre-submitted plans (which currently add up to 2.7 degrees above global average by the end of the century). Every five years every nation ratchets up their commitments, and carbon pricing sends a planet-wide price signal to the economy that it is cheaper to do business with renewables. What does all that look like? What exactly needs to happen in order to meet that ambitious goal? [Continue reading…]

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