Reducing greenhouse gases: Researchers warn of ‘greenwashing’

Renowned Swedish climate researcher Johan Rockström warns against relying solely on CO2-reducing measures such as forest conservation to combat global warming. On Thursday, presenting the latest scientific findings at the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, he said countries “should not fool themselves” by relying on offsetting greenhouse gases rather than drastically reducing emissions of climate-damaging gases.

Good arithmetic through the woods

The climate researcher said natural carbon dioxide sinks such as forests and swamps are important, but they should not be used to reduce ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Anything else would be “green wash”. Previously, environmental groups such as Greenpeace or climate activist Greta Thunberg warned in this context that countries could offset greenhouse gas credits.

Overall, the goal of a maximum global warming of 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times is still achievable, the climate researcher explained. To do this, global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by five percent per year, that is, by two billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. Rockstrom said it would be much safer to save four billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Humanity currently emits 42 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Do it right now

The scientist explained that the lower the global temperature, the lower the risk of irreversible consequences for the global climate system.

UN climate coordinator Patricia Espinosa appealed to representatives of countries still negotiating with each other in Scotland until next week to implement climate goals “now” and to move away from “business as usual”. Combating climate change is a “huge responsibility”.

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Science demonstrates the urgency of the situation. Espinosa said that if countries do not make significant progress by 2025 or 2026, “whether the 1.5-degree target can still be achieved” will have to be examined.

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