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Climate change and energy

How to keep global warming below 1.5 °C

Hitting the Paris climate pact’s aspirational target may be possible—but it won’t be easy.

Backstory: The main goal of the climate agreement is to keep global temperature rise below 2 °C, so most analysis has focused on how to achieve that. But the pact’s signatories aspire to an even tighter threshold of 1.5 °C.

What’s new: Ars Technica reports that researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis have modeled scenarios to see what changes might help humankind keep warming below 1.5 °C.

What to do: Global emissions would need to peak soon and fall to zero around 2060. Coal must be killed off by 2050 and oil even sooner. Renewables must account for 60 to 80 percent of power, and carbon-capture technology needs to remove the equivalent of 30 years’ worth of global carbon dioxide by 2100. Phew.

Bottom line: It’s possible to meet the target, but it requires the planet to collectively embark on a Herculean effort. Like, now.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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