For Immediate Release, January 16, 2015
Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364, firstname.lastname@example.org
2014's Record Heat Reinforces Need for Fossil Fuel-free Future
Sec. Kerry Urged to Back "Zero Emissions by 2050" Plan at Paris Climate Summit
WASHINGTON— Earth suffered the hottest year in recorded history in 2014, federal climate experts announced today, underscoring why the Obama administration must back an international plan to end virtually all fossil fuel use by 2050.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say 2014’s record-breaking heat is especially remarkable in the absence of a strong El Niño warming effect. That underscores that manmade climate pollutants are now a dominant force driving global temperatures.
“2014’s record-breaking heat is a terrifying reminder that fossil fuels are cooking our climate,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Obama administration must back international efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. We need a global agreement that keeps most dirty fossil fuels in the ground and provides ample support for developing nations to leapfrog into clean-energy economies.”
NOAA’s announcement comes as the Obama administration must decide whether to back an international push to end virtually all fossil fuel use by 2050. At the recent United Nations climate talks in Peru, negotiators produced a draft agreement that includes the option of “full decarbonization by 2050.” Secretary of State John Kerry is facing growing pressure to support the proposal going into the key U.N. climate summit in Paris this December.
The proposal to eliminate carbon pollution by 2050 is backed by dozens of governments around the world. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has pushed it on social media, and a group of Catholic bishops recently called for international efforts to end fossil fuel use.
A recent study in the journal Nature found that about a third of the planet’s oil, half of all natural gas reserves and more than 80 percent of the world’s coal must remain in the ground by 2050 to avoid dangerous global warming. To have a chance at staving off global warming's worst effects, scientists say that carbon emissions must peak around 2020 and then decline very rapidly.
Rising global temperatures are already contributing to a growing risk of drought and other dangerous forms of extreme weather, according to NOAA scientists. The risks will grow as temperatures rise: A recent U.N. report warns that global warming will create food shortages, flooding of island nations and major cities, and mass wildlife extinctions.
To fight this threat, the Center is also urging the Obama administration to strengthen domestic climate policies. For example, the EPA’s recently announced rules to curb pollution from methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas extraction should be broadened to cover existing oil and gas wells and leaky equipment and pipelines. As it stands, the proposal if enacted would fail to capture the majority of methane pollution that escapes whenever oil and gas are extracted, processed and distributed.
“We have a moral duty to end the planet-warming pollution that threatens human well-being and our world’s entire web of life,” Wolf said. “Sec. Kerry, President Obama and other leaders must take bold action to preserve a livable climate. If they don’t act quickly, 2014’s record heat may prove to be only the first mild taste of a scorching future.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.