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The nations that have signed agreements to stabilize the global mean temperature by 2050 will fail to meet their goals unless existing fossil fuel-burning infrastructure around the world is retired early, according to a study—published today in Nature - by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions.
"We need to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by midcentury to achieve stabilization of global temperatures as called for in international agreements such as the Paris accords," said lead author Dan Tong, a UCI postdoctoral scholar in Earth system science. "But that won't happen unless we get rid of the long-lasting power plants, boilers, furnaces and vehicles before the end of their useful life and replace them with non-emitting energy technologies."
Number - Power - Plants - Vehicles - World
The number of fossil fuel-burning power plants and vehicles in the world has increased dramatically in the past decade, spurred by rapid economic and industrial development in places such as China and India. Meanwhile, the average age of infrastructure in developed countries has decreased. For example, old coal power plants in the U.S. have been supplanted by new natural gas ones.
According to the study, emissions from existing energy infrastructure take up the entire carbon budget to limit mean warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and close to two-thirds of the budget to keep warming to under 2 C over the next three decades.
Pace - Growth - Years - Amount - Capacity
Although the pace of growth has slowed in recent years, a significant amount of new electricity-generating capacity has been proposed globally; some of it is already under construction. If this prospective infrastructure is built, total future emissions take up three-quarters of the budget to constrain warming to below 2...
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