In an effort to combat climate change, the Paris climate accord recommends keeping global temperature increases below 1.5˚C — but a new study reveals we’re likely to blow past that number, even if we stopped building power plants, factories, home appliances, and vehicles today.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, researchers say we’ve already built too many fossil-fuel-reliant factories and cars to stop the world’s temperatures from climbing past the 1.5-degree mark.
Stopping temperature rise would require us to start shutting down existing power plants. That’s not likely to happen, given there are several new plants in the process of being constructed, National Geographic reports.
For their study, Steven Davis and his team at the University of California analyzed all emissions from industrial, residential and commercial infrastructure in 2018. They then estimated the future carbon dioxide (C02) emissions those buildings and devices would generate over the course of their time in use.
Davis et al. only looked at things that were already in existence and did not account for the appliances, buildings, and vehicles that will be built in the future.
WHAT ABOUT RENEWABLES?
Glen Peters, research director at Norway’s Center for International Climate Research, tells National Geographic renewables aren’t going to save us, at least not yet.
“The rapid growth in renewables is still not sufficient to cover the annual increase in energy demand,” Peters told the outlet in an email, adding that in order to stay below 1.5°C or 2°C, “it’s very likely fossil infrastructure will have to be retired earlier than planned.”
The full paper can be found here.