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Columbia University Study Finds Clean Energy Can Help Prevent Devastating Climate Change

A large factory spews carbon into the early light of dawn.

As of right now, all hope is not lost in preventing drastic climate change, though the effort to get the world back on track would need to be tremendous.

The international community has agreed on a goal of reducing temperature shift by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. However, the international community is off target by quite a bit currently. A new study out from Columbia University’s Earth Institute shows that many world governments haven’t even begun research into meeting that goal.

According to a group of researchers from 15 different countries, in order to achieve this still, the world would need to achieve carbon neutrality by the second half of the century.

Jeffrey Sachs, the Earth Institute’s Director, said the key to achieving this goal is investing in renewable energy. He wasn’t optimistic that the hard line of 2 degrees Celsius will stand, though.

"The 2-degree-Celsius limit is absolutely essential to hold onto and to try to achieve," he said. "We are just at the end of the tether in our capacity to do so. In order to do so, we need deep transformations of our energy systems in all the major emitting countries. In order to accomplish that, countries need long-term strategies of the types that they don't have right now."

The Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project, presented to U.S. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, concluded that this would mean entire overhauls of energy infrastructure for countries such as China and the U.S., two of the largest consumers of energy in the world.

Sachs was clear that they’re not giving up on meeting the target.

"We are going to call on world leaders to respect the 2-degree limit," he said. "We must not lose this most important negotiation in the world." 

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