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The world still isn't close to preventing a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some countries’ recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. The report looks at the gap between what countries promise to do about carbon pollution and what scientists say needs to be done to prevent temperatures rising another two degrees — the goal world leaders set in 2009. To meet it, the world has to hit a peak of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases before 2030, said the report's chief scientific editor, Joseph Alcamo.
But the study says carbon emissions will continue to soar until 2050 and by then it will be too late. Researchers said that to keep below the two-degree mark, the world can emit about 46 billion tons of greenhouse gas by 2030. Without factoring recent promises by the U.S. and China, the world will spew between 15 billion and 19 billion tons more than that, said Alcamo, chief scientist for the U.N.’s environmental arm. Those pledges and an earlier one by Europe can’t close the gap, Alcamo said.
Granger Morgan at Carnegie Mellon University raised a question: Is the two-degree goal unrealistic? "Today a two-degree target is akin to a 60-year-old man who resolves to be 25 years old next year," Morgan said in an email. "It ain't gonna happen, but it's time to get really serious about achieving what we can." But Tommy Remengesau — president of the island nation Palau, threatened by rising seas — said this isn't about numbers: "For some of us, it's a matter of survival: life and death."
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