Introduction of the summary:
Climate science tells us that we’ve pushed beyond ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,’ and are on the verge of committing to catastrophic interference. In this context, it’s necessary to raise our heads, if only for a moment, from the tactical scrum, and to consider brute necessity. To that end, we argue for a stringent mitigation pathway (one that can only be achieved by way of an international emergency program) that would give us a reasonable probability of keeping global warming below 2ºC. This implies a pathway that would have global emissions peak in 2015 and then drop at a resolute six percent per year, to reach a level of 80 percent below 1990 levels in 2050. Along the way, CO2 concentrations would peak near 425 ppm (with CO2-equivalent levels reaching about 470 ppm) before they began to fall.
Such an emergency pathway is, to be sure, a technical challenge; but it’s even more a political challenge. After all, the defining political reality of the climate crisis is that we confront it within a profoundly and bitterly divided world characterised by staggering levels of poverty amid enormous (and growing) wealth. And while the usual path from poverty to prosperity is via a development process that entails dramatic increases in the per capita use of fossil fuel energy, this path must be closed. Any future in which it’s taken by even a significant fraction of the world’s poor is a future in which dramatically rising carbon emissions make a mockery of emergency rhetoric.
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