With recent news of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first wave of policy moves suggesting how his administration will alter the climate-forward policies and legislation advanced by President Obama’s administration, the Paris Agreement goal—of limiting global warming to under 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels—grows increasingly unrealistic. This is, however, not the only factor contributing to long standing skepticism regarding this target, many researchers have long suggested the goal, despite its well-reasoned sustainability targets, was inherently flawed. Many have suggested that, given that global temperatures had already risen by 0.8 degrees by the time of the Agreement’s passing, global temperatures were likely to soar well past 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, therefore making reaching the target highly unrealistic—calling for drastic cuts heretofore unseen outside of crises such as the 2008 financial crisis.
A new report, published in the March 24th issue of Science, sees a group of European researchers from institutions including Stockholm University, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research offer a new vision for climate policy which, they argue, would establish a realistic path to the ambitious Paris Agreement goal. The report finds that reaching this target would call on the world’s nations to ensure global emissions are cut in half every decade, establishing a “carbon law” which would govern reductions across all sectors and countries on the way to the Paris Agreement’s mid-century target. Realizing these reductions will call on a mixture of innovation, institutional action, infrastructure improvement, and supportive investment. The report’s authors then propose a concrete roadmap of actions which breaks down the 33 year span into four smaller segments which builds on the existing development and ongoing momentum in developing clean energy solutions and enacting effective carbon emission reductions.
The Trump administration’s first move to reform the future of climate policies, announced in an executive order to be signed by President Trump, outlined a vision permissive of the energy and coal mining industries and limit the pervasiveness of environmental restrictions at all levels of government and industry. While detrimental to global efforts, this first executive order did not include any mention of the Paris Agreement or Trump’s repeated intentions to depart the agreement upon taking office. Therefore, the Paris Agreement, nonetheless, remains the most prominent and viable instrument to guide comprehensive and unified action in the effort to limit climate change, but, the report argues, this will require a far more strictly delineated roadmap of activities that bind the nations together in the pursuit of their shared goal.