The Paris Agreement can be broken seven times

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Global warming since the industrial revolution is now just under 1.2 degrees. It is already triggering worse droughts, bigger floods and wilder storms on large parts of our planet.

The goal the world has committed to in the Paris Agreement is a maximum of 1.5 degrees of warming. According to the UN’s calculations, we can therefore continue burning fossil fuels for another nine years – provided we then stop abruptly.

Those emissions would be the equivalent of 360 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

But in total we have much larger reserves of gas, coal and oil than that. The first registry of how much, The global registry of fossil fuels, launched this week. And that shows that if we succumb to the temptation to continue firing at full blast, the consequences can be incalculable. In total, the emissions if we burn everything would be around 3,500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, i.e. almost ten times as much as we can afford.

Some countries already see their existence as threatened, including island nations in the Pacific Ocean. And they hope the registry will help governments and companies in the transition.

“It will be a concrete way to prevent the islands that are our home from being destroyed, a threat that for that matter includes all countries in the world community,” says Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign minister.