Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Opinion: We want to cut global warming in half starting on Earth Day

February 18, 2021


FEB. 17, 2021, 3:31 PM PT

Scientists warn that aggregate global warming of over 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) or even 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) could harm our planet and its habitability beyond repair. This sober admonition is often followed by the reassurance that we know the mark we need to hit — net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century. We must take carbon emissions out of power production, transportation, agriculture, buildings, and industry.

There is reason for optimism on reducing carbon emissions because people around the globe are showing the determination and innovation that California has used to lead the way. But carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not the only threat; we need to take on the warming curve. Right now, certain “super pollutants” — hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used as coolants; methane emissions from natural gas, landfills, and farms; and black carbon soot from wood-burning, wildfires, and incomplete diesel fuel combustion — cause as much as 40 percent of planet heating. Fortunately, these pollutants are short-lived in the atmosphere. If we act aggressively to reduce and eliminate them, we can dramatically slow climate change. If we don’t curb them very soon, our work to abate carbon dioxide emissions won’t be enough to avoid catastrophe.

We can cut the rate of warming in half within 20 years if we immediately take three steps…

Continue reading at San Diego Union-Tribune, here.