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Too late for two degrees?

Although scientists are hesitant towards making a judgement about the cause of Hurricane Sandy, most have accepted that climate change did contribute to the intensity of the Category 1 storm. The oceans are now 0.5°C warmer than they were a century ago. This not only extends the length of hurricane season, but boosted the storm’s power as it picked up speed quicker than usual. With sea levels higher, the storm carried even more moisture leading to higher floodwaters which submerged the streets of New York City.

At his acceptance speech in Chicago, President Obama signalled his intention to tackle climate change in his second term when he underlined the issue as among his top priorities.

"We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened up by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

In Too late for two degrees? Low carbon economy index 2012’, PwC estimated that to meet a 2°C warming target, the required improvement in global carbon intensity will be 5.1% a year.

This rate will have to be reached from today until 2050. However, the current rate of decarbonisation has been hovering around the 0.8% mark since 2000. The report said that we will need ‘unprecedented and sustained reductions over four decades’ in order to keep our earth’s temperature relatively stable. International coordination is something that is needed to tackle climate change. The report showed that energy-related emissions around the world varied dramatically. The UK was one of the best performers with a -6.4% reduction from 2010 to 2011. The USA managed to reduce their emissions by 1.9%, but if President Obama hopes to keep to his climate change promise, a much stronger performance will be expected over the next four years. On the other end of the scale, China trailed behind with a 9.4% increase in energy related emissions, with Australia not far behind at an 8.7% increase.

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