Thursday 27/08/2015 17:11
Category: Climate change

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Get off RCP8.5!

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What is RCP8.5 and why does it matter?

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published their Fifth Assessment Report in 2013 they included 3 scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways - RCP) used to explain the impact of continuing to pollute the planet by burning fossil fuels. The scenarios considered what would happen to global temperatures:

(a) if we took drastic measures to reduce CO2 emissions so that they peak in the 2040-50 time frame (RCP4.5);

(b) if we reduce CO2 emissions so that they peak by 2080 (RCP6.0);

(c) if we continue as we are now (RCP8.5).

Two other important things to note:

1. We are already, as of this year (2015), at the point of 1oC temperature rise above pre-industrial levels.

2. There is widespread agreement amongst scientists and governments that we must keep temperature rises below 2oC if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences for the planet.

None of the IPCC scenarios keep us below the dangerous 2oC threshold after about 2060. And, guess which scenario we are currently on? You guessed it – RCP8.5!

So the actions taken so far by governments around the world have been too little and too late. We MUST get off the RCP8.5 pathway urgently otherwise we can expect temperatures more than 5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century and that puts the planet into an unprecedented disaster scenario the consequences of which are unknowable.


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