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Preventing a 2-degree C temperature rise = almost no fossil fuel use

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As nations look ahead to the December global climate meet in Copenhagen, many have been considering goals to slow global warming/climate change. Now, their deliberations may take on more of a sense of urgency:

"Less than a quarter of the proven fossil fuel reserves can be burnt and emitted between now and 2050, if global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees C [3.6 degrees F.]," says a study published in the journal Nature yesterday, which was conducted by researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Also published in Nature was another study by scientists at England's Oxford University. Most of the climate goals currently being considered by various countries include slowing carbon dioxide emissions by a certain amount during the next five or six years and a larger amount by 2050. But that isn't good enough, warns Oxford scientists, who say: "Emitting carbon dioxide slower will not prevent dangerous climate change unless it involves phasing out carbon dioxide emissions altogether. ..."

"To avoid dangerous climate change, we will have to limit the total amount of carbon we inject into the atmosphere, not just the emission rate in any given year," explains Dr. Myles Allen of the Oxford physics department. "Climate policy needs an exit strategy: as well as reducing carbon emissions now, we need a plan for phasing out net emissions entirely."

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