That is if you correct for one important piece of scientific criticism to the below graph. But even if you prefer to ignore what may seem the nitty gritty of climatology and accept a maximum global carbon budget of 8.9 years one conclusion should resound across our planet: The time of coal is over.* Yesterday. We cannot build any new coal lock-in infrastructure – and we have to shut down all the existing coal plants, and stop all the existing coal transport – both exports and imports.
How much is 8.9 minus ‘<10.1′? Let’s say ‘close to zero’…
We’ve seen how close observed global temperatures have come to pre-industrial +1.5 degrees, the important ambition following from the Paris climate summit. Now how close is the current global temperature peak to the actual global temperature trend? Very close, judging by this forecast by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, predicting a new global hottest year record within 5 years. Equally close, judging by an updated 1.5 degrees carbon budget calculation by CarbonBrief.org.
In their own report that comes with the updated infographic the people at Carbon Brief actually help us correctly interpret their below graph, by pointing out it does not include climate warming inertia. Yesterday we saw that combining ocean thermal inertia, ocean carbon cycle inertia and climate sensitivity fast feedback inertia, there may still be a warming time lag of up to 10 years (the first years of which show rapid warming, beyond which we see progression to asymptote).
This leads us to conclude the world has about zero years of current CO2 emissions left before we breach the (50/50% chance) 1.5 degrees carbon budget.
It is the strongest possible encouragement to all those people across the world who are now actively working on divesting public funds from fossil fuel companies and all those people who actively engage in campaigns against destructive fossil fuels infrastructure.
[*) Zero years of fossil fuel emissions means exactly that: zero years of fossil fuel emissions. So what goes for the coal industry goes for the entire fossil industry, also oil and gas. But let's not forget the most CO2-intensive fossil fuels (coal, tar sands) do still deserve the highest priority – and are hardest hit economically through proper understanding of carbon bubble fossil overinvestment and rising competition from renewable energy sources.]
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org