All fossil fuels must go in 40 years, a new study says


Researchers used climate simulations to predict the fate of the planet under different fossil fuel scenarios.

Under this scenario, petrol and diesel-driven cars, aircraft and ships run on fossil fuels, and carbon-emitting power plants and factories would have to become history over a period of four decades.

"It's good news from a geophysical point of view".

The study, led by Christopher Smith, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, assumed a lifespan for power plants of 40 years, 15 years for cars, and 26 years for planes. The work also assumes a rapid end to beef and dairy consumption, which is responsible for significant global emissions. But on the other side of the coin, the immediate fossil fuel phaseout is really at the limit of what we could we possibly do.

"We are rapidly approaching the end of the age of fossil fuels". If the phaseout does not begin until 2030, the chance is 33 per cent. As the Guardian pointed out, "the analysis did not include the possibility of tipping points such as the sudden release of huge volumes of methane from permafrost, which could spark runaway global warming". "The climate system is not stopping you [hitting the target], global society is stopping you", Smith said.

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They would need to be replaced by zero-carbon alternatives such as electric cars, modern-style sailing vessels and renewable energy sources.

Prof Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, who also was not part of the research team, said: "Whether it's drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel vehicle, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. The message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away", added Dave Reay of the University of Edinburgh, who, even though he didn't participate in the study, praised the new research.

Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London, warned: "Each year we fail to cut global emissions will make it more unlikely that we can keep global warming below 1.5C". "I think we are heading for 2C to 2.5C".

While that goal is described by some as "daunting", critics of the Paris accord-which is backed by every nation on Earth except the United States under President Donald Trump-and its recently established rulebook have concluded that neither go far enough.