Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have emitted more than 2,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (A gigaton is one billion metric tons.)
This concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the air causes the climate change impacts we’re experiencing today, from forest fires to stifling heat waves and damaging sea level rise — and the global community is still emitting more each year. Unless we make serious changes, climate impacts will only continue to intensify.
The imperative for combating climate change is to curb emissions rapidly — for example, by ramping up renewable energy, boosting energy efficiency, halting deforestation and curbing super pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The latest climate science tells us, however, that these efforts alone aren’t enough.
To keep global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), which scientists say is necessary for preventing the worst impacts of climate change, we’ll need to not only reduce emissions but also remove and store some carbon that’s already in the atmosphere.
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