Hexbyte Glen Cove Tenfold increase in carbon dioxide emissions cuts needed to stem climate emergency thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Tenfold increase in carbon dioxide emissions cuts needed to stem climate emergency

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New research shows 64 countries cut their fossil CO2 emissions during 2016-2019, but the rate of reduction needs to increase tenfold to meet the Paris Agreement aims to tackle climate change.

This first global stocktake by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Stanford University and the Global Carbon Project examined progress in cutting fossil CO2 emissions since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. Their results show the clear need for far greater ambition ahead of the important UN climate summit in Glasgow in November (COP26).

The annual cuts of 0.16 billion tonnes of CO2 are only 10 percent of the 1-2 billion tonnes of CO2 cuts that are needed globally every year to tackle climate change.

While emissions decreased in 64 countries, they increased in 150 countries. Globally, emissions grew by 0.21 billion tonnes of CO2 per year during 2016-2019 compared to 2011-2015.

The scientists’ findings, “Fossil CO2 emissions in the post-COVID era,” are published today in Nature Climate Change.

In 2020, confinement measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic cut global emissions by 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2, about 7 percent below 2019 levels. The researchers say 2020 is a ‘pause button’ that cannot realistically continue while the world overwhelmingly relies on fossil fuels, and confinement policies are neither a sustainable nor desirable solution to the climate crisis.

Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, led the analysis. She said: “Countries’ efforts to cut CO2 emissions since the Paris Agreement are starting to pay off, but actions are not large-scale enough yet and emissions are still increasing in way too many countries.

“The drop in CO2 emissions from responses to COVID-19 highlights the scale of actions and of international adherence needed to tackle climate change. Now we need large-scale actions that are good for human health and good for the planet.

“It is in everyone’s best interests to build back better to speed the urgent transition to .”

Annual cuts of 1-2 billion tonnes of CO2 are needed throughout the 2020s and beyond to avoid exceeding global warming within the range 1.5 °C to well below 2 °C, the ambition of the UN Paris Agreement. The world has warmed by over 1 °C since the Industrial Revolution because of emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.

Of the 36 high-income countries, 25 saw their emissions decrease during 2016-2019 compared to 2011-2015, including the U.S. (-0.7 percent), the European Union (-0.9 percent), and the UK (-3.6 percent). Emissions decreased even when accounting for the carbon footprint of imported goods produced in other countries.

Thirty of 99 upper-middle income countries also saw their emissions decrease during 2016-2019 compared to 2011-2015, suggesting that actions to reduce emissions are now in motion in many countries worldwide. Mexico (-1.3 percent) is a notable example in that group, while China’s emissions increased 0.4 percent, much less than the 6.2 percent annual growth of 2011-2015.

The growing number of laws and policies appear to have played a key role in curbing the growth in emissions during 2016-2019. There are now more than 2000 climate laws and policies worldwide.

A full bounce-back in 2021 to previous CO2 levels appears unlikely. However, the authors say unless the COVID-19 recovery directs investments in clean energy and the green economy, emissions will likely start increasing again within a few years. The nature of the disruption in 2020, particularly affecting road transport, means incentive to expedite the large-scale deployment of electric vehicles and encourage walking and cycling in cities are timely and would also improve public health. The resilience of renewable energy throughout the crisis, falling costs, and air quality benefits, are additional incentives to support their large-scale deployment.

Investments post-COVID continue to be overwhelmingly dominated by fossil fuels in most countries, in contradiction with climate commitments, including in the United States and China. The European Union, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland are among the few countries that have so far implemented substantial green stimulus packages with limited investments in fossil-based activities.

Prof Rob Jackson of Stanford University co-authored the study. He said: “The growing commitments by countries to reach net zero emissions within decades strengthens the climate ambition needed at COP26 in Glasgow. Greater ambition is now backed by leaders of the three biggest emitters: China, the United States, and the European Commission.”

“Commitments alone aren’t enough. Countries need to align post-COVID incentives with climate targets this decade, based on sound science and credible implementation plans.”

Prof Le Quéré added: “This pressing timeline is constantly underscored by the rapid unfolding of extreme impacts worldwide.”

More information:
“Fossil CO2 emissions in the post-COVID era,” March 3, 2021 in Nature Climate Change, 2021.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove How cell processes round up and dump damaged proteins thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove How cell processes round up and dump damaged proteins

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new paper with results that senior author Eric Strieter at the University of Massachusetts Amherst calls “incredibly surprising,” he and his chemistry lab group report that they have discovered how an enzyme known as UCH37 regulates a cell’s waste management system.

Strieter says, “It took us eight years to figure it out, and I’m very proud of this work. We had to develop a lot of new methods and tools to understand what this enzyme is doing.”

As he explains, a very large protease called a proteasome is responsible for degrading the vast majority of proteins in a cell; it may be made up of as many as 40 proteins. It has been known for more than 20 years that UCH37 is one of the regulatory enzymes that associates with the proteasome, he adds, “but no one understood what it was doing.”

It turns out that the crux of the whole process, he adds, is how complicated modifications in a small called ubiquitin can be. “In addition to modifying other proteins, ubiquitin modifies itself resulting in a wide array of chains. Some of these chains can have extensive branching. We found that UCH37 removes branchpoints from chains, allowing degradation to proceed.”

Writing this week in Molecular Cell, he and first author and Ph.D. candidate Kirandeep Deol, who led and conducted the experiments, with co-authors Sean Crowe, Jiale Du, Heather Bisbee and Robert Guenette, discuss how they answered the question. The work was supported by the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

This advance could eventually lead to a new cancer treatment, Strieter says, because need the proteasome to grow and proliferate. “Many cancer cells are essentially addicted to proteasome function,” he points out. “Its cells produce proteins at such a fast rate that mistakes are made, and if these are not cleared out, cells can’t function. Since UCH37 aids in clearing out proteins, it could be a useful therapeutic target to add to the proteasome inhibitors that have already been successful in the clinic.”

To begin their years-long process, Strieter says, “we had to come up with a way to generate a wide variety of ubiquitin chains that would represent the potential diversity in a cell. Using that new library of ubiquitin chains allowed us to interrogate the activity of UCH37 in a controlled setting. That series of experiments gave us the first clue that this enzyme was doing something unique.”

Another new method they developed uses to characterize the architecture of ubiquitin chains in complex mixtures. “This allowed us to see that the activity we discovered with our library of substrates was also present in a more heterogenous mixture,” Strieter says. Finally, the chemists used the CRISPR gene editing tool to remove UCH37 from cells to measure the impact of UCH37 on proteasome-mediated degradation in vitro and in .

This technique led to one more surprise. “Instead of acting as expected and opposing the degradation process, it turned out that UCH37 was removing branchpoints from chains to help degrade proteins,” Strieter says. “You would think that by removing the signal for degradation that degradation would be impaired,” he adds, “but it didn’t work that way.”

In future experiments, Strieter and colleagues hope to further explore the process and learn in more detail how UCH37 manages to regulate cellular function.

More information:
Kirandeep K. Deol et al, Proteasome-Bound UCH37/UCHL5 Debranches Ubiquitin Chains to Promote Degradation, Molecular Cell (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.10.017

How cell processes round up and dump damaged proteins (2020, November 7)
retrieved 8 November 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-cell-dump-proteins.html