Biden has agreed to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change when he becomes president, putting the agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius limit into what Climate Action Tracker calls “within striking distance.” But what does this mean? Bringing the agreement’s goals within reach is dependent upon the United States reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, China bringing emissions to net-zero by 2060, and the EU, Japan, and South Korea reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. But most countries aren’t meeting their targets, and emissions of some of the world’s largest polluters are still increasing.
Even if all 184 countries met targets set at the Paris Agreement, it has been projected that we’d still see three degrees of warming. With three degrees of warming, scientists have estimated that the Amazon rainforest would collapse, an increasing number of places would become uninhabitable because of drought and heat, and world food supplies would be critically endangered. Melting permafrost would trigger the release of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, and collapsing forests would mean these areas of land become carbon sources instead of carbon sinks. At this point, there would be massive feedback loops triggered, leading to uncontrollable warming and devastation for most of the world’s inhabitants.
We don’t have until 2050 to reach net-zero emissions, and we can’t expect other countries to also suddenly change course, when trends indicate we’re headed towards climate catastrophe. And clearly, even if Paris Climate Agreement targets were met, we’d still be headed towards environmental collapse. Biden’s pathetic climate plans will not be enough to save us from this bleak future; we need to act now.