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Negotiators during the 2013 COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland made big advances on a program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which helps countries preserve forests and climate-altering carbon stored inside. As the world moves toward establishing a new international climate action agreement in 2015, the progress on REDD+ deserves a closer look.

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We already know the world’s carbon budget is being exhausted at an alarming pace, but a new scientific assessment reveals just how sobering the picture of the global carbon cycle truly is.

The Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) 2013 report finds that at the precise time emissions reductions are needed most, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels and producing cement have reached their highest level in human history.

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The world of open data welcomed a new platform this summer—WRI’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, or CAIT 2.0. The platform offers free online access to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other climate data, enabling researchers, policymakers, media, and others to download, visualize, and share data for analysis and communications on climate change.

Today we’re pleased to roll out the next iteration of CAIT 2.0, featuring improved functionality and other upgrades. Check out a screencast of how CAIT 2.0 works, or read on to learn about some of the benefits visitors can expect to find.

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The UNFCCC negotiations are entering a crucial phase. Negotiators decided nearly two years ago to establish an international climate action agreement “with legal force” by 2015. How this agreement will be structured, though, remains to be seen.

WRI’s new working paper lays out the various options for designing the process for submitting "national offers," countries’ plans to reduce their respective greenhouse gas emissions. It will be critical for negotiators to focus on three key areas: the content of the offers, the timing and process for submitting them, and how they will be reviewed.

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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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The Network for China's Climate and Energy Information

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Natural gas wells represent a significant source of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as many of them leak methane, which is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. But while scientists know that “fugitive methane” is a concern, there’s much uncertainty about the full extent of the problem. A new study from the University of Texas—developed in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and nine natural gas production companies (Anadarko, BG Group, Chevron, EnCana, Pioneer, Shell, Southwest, Talisman, ExxonMobil)—sheds some light on this perplexing issue.

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