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Securing Rights for People and the Climate in Africa

The just concluded U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit focused attention on Africa’s promises and challenges, including energy, agriculture and the $14 billion in investment pledged by companies. The visiting heads of state—just shy of 50—also discussed climate change and its effects on crop production, nutrition and food security. New research by the World Resources Institute and Rights and Resources Initiative on the climate dividends of secure community land rights can help Africa address these challenges.

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The History of Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from human activities are now higher than at any point in our history. In fact, recent data reveals that global CO₂ emissions were 150 times higher in 2011 than they were in 1850.

How did we arrive at such an unprecedented—and precarious—state? Read on for a visual history of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

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New Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles Are a “Win-Win-Win”

Last week, President Obama directed his administration to set new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including large pick-up trucks, school buses, and tractors. Improving fuel efficiency standards from these vehicles—which make up 20 percent of U.S. transport emissions—can not only rein in emissions, it can help consumers save money at the gas pump.

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Emissions Trading in China: First Reports from the Field

Chinese emissions trading pilots emerge as environmental and climate issues reach the top of the Chinese agenda. The authors discuss emissions trading in China, from the field. Editor's note: This blog post was originally posted on ChinaFAQs.

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7 Ways to Attract and Use Climate Finance for Transport

It is not possible to effectively address climate change without substantive [greenhouse gas] GHG emission reductions by the transport sector. But putting the pieces together – especially in developing countries – will require fine-tuning transportation climate finance readiness to match growing demand.

A new report for the German International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)) outlines seven routes governments in the developing world can take to accelerate investment in low-carbon transport.

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King Coal’s Climate Challenge

Coal is emerging as a major topic of conversation at the United Nations climate-change negotiations currently taking place in Warsaw – and rightly so. Indeed, it is a discussion that the world needs to have.

The latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that we are quickly using up our carbon “budget” – the amount of carbon that we can afford to emit while still having a good chance of limiting global warming to 2º Celsius. According to the IPCC, keeping the global temperature increase from pre-industrial levels below this threshold – the recognized tipping point beyond which climate change is likely to get seriously out of control – requires that the world emit only about 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC). More than half of this amount was already emitted by 2011. Unless we shift away from carbon-intensive behavior, the remaining budget will run out in roughly three decades.

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World’s Carbon Budget to Be Spent in Three Decades

EDITOR'S NOTE 11/18/13: After this blog post was published, the IPCC updated its Summary for Policymakers. The figures in this blog post have been updated to reflect new information.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has delivered an overwhelming consensus that climate change impacts are accelerating, fueled by human-caused emissions. We may have just about 30 years left until the world’s carbon budget is spent if we want a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. Breaching this limit would put the world at increased risk of forest fires, coral bleaching, higher sea level rise, and other dangerous impacts.

When Will Our Carbon Budget Run Out?

The international community has adopted a goal for global warming not to rise above 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists have devoted considerable effort to understanding what magnitude of emissions reductions are necessary to limit warming to this level, as the world faces increasingly dangerous climate change impacts with every degree of warming (see Box 1).

IPCC AR5 summarizes the scientific literature and estimates that cumulative carbon dioxide emissions related to human activities need to be limited to 1 trillion tonnes C (1000 PgC) since the beginning of the industrial revolution if we are to have a likely chance of limiting warming to 2°C. This is “our carbon budget” – the same concept as a checking account. When we’ve spent it all, there’s no more money (and the planet’s overdraft fees will be much more significant than a bank’s small charges for bounced checks).[^1]

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Editor’s Note: Experts are available in Michigan and Washington, D.C. to discuss this analysis

New analysis of Michigan’s power sector shows that the state can meet – and possibly even exceed – national carbon pollution standards that will be established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA is expected to announce emissions standards for new power plants later this month and additional standards for existing power plants in 2014.

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