If global warming reaches or exceeds two degrees Celsius by 2100, it will lead to the death of roughly one billion mainly poorer humans over the next century, warned a study.
The study led by University of Western Ontario in Canada called for aggressive energy policies needed to decrease carbon emissions and minimise loss of lives.
Researchers noted that the oil and gas industry, which includes many of the most profitable and powerful businesses in the world, is directly and indirectly responsible for more than 40 per cent of carbon emissions.
The emissions majorly impact the lives of billions of people, many living in the world's most remote and low-resourced communities.
"Such mass death is clearly unacceptable. It's pretty scary really, especially for our children," said lead author Joshua Pearce, Professor at Western.
The study, published in the journal Energies, is based on a review of more than 180 articles from scientific literature
The team found the peer-reviewed literature on the human mortality costs of carbon emissions converged on the "1000-tonne rule," which is an estimate that one future premature death is caused every time approximately 1,000 tonnes of fossil carbon are burned.
"If you take the scientific consensus of the 1000-tonne rule seriously, and run the numbers, anthropogenic global warming equates to a billion premature dead bodies over the next century. Obviously, we have to act. And we have to act fast," Pearce said.
The study found that to limit these greenhouse gas emissions liabilities and save many human lives, humanity needs to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible by following a more aggressive approach to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
According to the study, energy policy to mitigate climate change should be prioritised by improving energy conservation and efficiency and the rational use of energy.
There should be complete replacement of high carbon fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) by zero carbon content fuels (i.e., hydrogen, electricity, etc.) from renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar, scaled and distributed to create resilient power networks.
Further, there also needs to be development of technologies for carbon waste management and natural capture and storage of carbon dioxide including carbon sequestration and regenerative agriculture, as well as replacement of carbon subsidies by carbon taxes.
"Global warming is a matter of life or death for a billion people. Almost everyone agrees that every human life is valuable, independent of age, cultural or racial background, gender or financial resources. Therefore, the energy transition will have to change much, much faster, starting now," Pearce said.