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The lives of billions of people, for centuries to come, will be at stake when world leaders and government negotiators meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of the month.So far, however, no such stabilization has taken place, and without it, climate feedback loops could boost rising temperatures further still. The first ambiguity has been resolved by the decision to aim for a level of emissions that would cap the increase in average surface temperature at 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.Consider that even with a rise of only 0.8 degrees Celsius so far, the planet has experienced record-high temperatures, more extreme weather events, and substantial melting of the Greenland ice sheet, containing enough water to cause a seven-meter rise in sea levels.To have even a 50 percent chance of keeping to the 2 degrees Celsiuslimit, annual carbon emissions need to come down to 36 billion tons.A report from Australia's National Centre for Climate Restoration is no less alarming. The level of emissions in the atmosphere today already mean that we have a 10 percent chance of exceeding 2 degrees Celsius even if we stopped adding further emissions right now (which is not going to happen).
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