Today, there was a kick-off meeting of the European Union projects and, as in the last time we had such a workshop, we invited high school students from Bali. I will write about these kick-off meeting results later, but one of the students asked the following question.
How long are you going to work on climate change?
It's a fair question if you ask me. It has been 30 years since the first UN environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro. I feel like I was still a child when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. Even the Paris Agreement is already five years old, and as I wrote yesterday, if it had not been for the corona pandemic, carbon dioxide would have continued to rise. The Paris Agreement, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, has no penalties, and there are doubts about whether it will be observed appropriately. The rate at which carbon dioxide emissions increase seems to have even increased since the Paris Agreement was adopted. Perhaps we have become comfortable because there are no penalties for not curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
As for her question, I replied: "2050, maybe". A few years ago, the UN wrote a special report on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. The conclusion of that report was that whatever the scenario if we are to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from the industrial revolution by the end of this century, we must reduce net carbon dioxide emissions to virtually zero by the middle of this century. Virtually zero means that the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity must be removed from the air in some way so that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air does not increase. The LANDMARC project, which had its kick-off meeting just today, will study how this can be achieved using agroforestry, composting, and other land-use related technologies.
According to the UN special report, no matter which scenario you go through, you actually have to go above 1.5 degrees once. Then some technological breakthrough occurs, and by extracting carbon dioxide from the air, the temperature settles down to about 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of 100 years. This is called overshooting. As you can see, the idea of virtually zero carbon dioxide by 2050 is based on a very optimistic view. Does that mean that we will still be engaged in climate change-related activities 30 years from now?