Setting appropriate climate goals
Reducing emissions to zero while simultaneously removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Global warming has already reached 1.3 degrees Celsius. In 2022, the remaining budget to maintain a 67% probability of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees was 320 billion tons of CO2, and global CO2 emissions for that year were 40 billion tons.
For the world to adhere to this remaining budget, it must achieve zero emissions by 2037 (if CO2 emissions are linearly reduced from early 2024). In other words, climate neutrality by 2045 is not compatible with the 1.5-degree goal: the global target is 2037, and for wealthier nations, it’s 2035 or earlier. This is not widely known among most people in politics, media, and society.
The task of the EWG is to:
1. Raise awareness about the required target year for zero emissions and that national climate goals are in contradiction to it.
2. Advocate for goals that align more closely with the Paris Climate Agreement.
Achieving zero emissions economically and swiftly
Generating electricity from wind and solar is already cheaper per kWh than generating electricity from coal, gas, or nuclear power plants. The same applies to gasoline and diesel at European gas stations.
The faster the energy generation in all sectors transitions to 100% renewable energy, the stronger the economy becomes.
The challenge now is to:
1. Finance the one-time cost and benefits of replacing not yet depreciated fossil power plants, vehicles, and building heating systems.
2. Distribute these costs and benefits in a way that the solution is politically adopted and remains stable over several legislative periods.
Agriculture and forestry should be developed as carbon sinks, and residual waste with carbon content should not be incinerated but briquetted. The EWG has developed practical measures for this purpose and is advocating for them in the political and media spheres.
Cooling the Earth again (350 ppm)
The climate damages to people and nature are already significant, and will only increase by fully utilizing the remaining budget. Once CO2 is in the atmosphere, it stays there for about 1,000 years. Additionally, tipping points that amplify global warming, such as the melting of polar ice caps, are expected. Therefore, we need practical ways to reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to pre-anthropogenic warming levels, around 320-350 ppm (parts per million) of CO2.
The currently available technical solutions for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are still too expensive and untested on a large scale to achieve the 320-350 ppm target. The use of plants to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and then permanently sequester it is likely cheaper but also not yet sufficiently tested on the required scale.
The EWG is researching:
1. The current state of technology for CO2 removal from the atmosphere and its costs.
2. How these techniques can be implemented and financed globally on the scale required for 350 ppm.
The results are made available to policymakers, administration, and the media.