Action by 2020 key for limiting climate change, researchers say

Dec 16, 2012

Limiting climate change to target levels will become much more difficult to achieve, and more expensive, if action is not taken soon, according to a new analysis from IIASA, ETH Zurich, and NCAR.

The new paper, published today in Nature Climate Change, explores technological, policy, and social changes that would need to take place in the near term in order to keep global from rising above 2 °C, a target supported by more than 190 countries as a global limit to avoid dangerous climate change. This study for the first time comprehensively quantifies the costs and risks of greenhouse gas emissions surpassing critical thresholds by 2020. The findings of the study are particularly important given the failure of the recent in Doha to decide to increase mitigation action before 2020.

The authors show that the 2°C target could still be reached even if are not reduced before 2020, but only at very high cost, with higher climate risks, and under exceedingly optimistic assumptions about future technologies. The more emissions are reduced in the near term, the more options will be available in the long run and, by extension, the cheaper it will be to reach international climate targets.

"We wanted to know what needs to be done by 2020 in order to be able to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius for the entire twenty-first century," says Joeri Rogelj, lead author of the paper and researcher at ETH Zurich. The team of researchers analyzed a large array of potential scenarios for limiting global temperature rise to 2 °C above preindustrial levels, a target set by international climate agreements.

Projections based on current national emissions pledges suggest that global carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions will reach 55 gigatons (billion metric tons, Gt) or more per year in 2020, up from approximately 50 Gt today. At such levels, it would still be possible to reach the 2°C target in the long term, though it would be more difficult and expensive than if near-term emissions were lower.

For instance, nuclear power would need to remain on the table as a mitigation option, or people would need to quickly adopt advanced technology strategies, including electric vehicles and highly efficient energy end-use technologies such as appliances, buildings, and transportation. Meanwhile, coal-fired power plants would need to be rapidly shut down and replaced with other energy sources. IIASA Energy Program Leader Keywan Riahi, who also worked on the study, says, "You would need to shut down a coal power plant each week for ten years if you still wanted to reach the two-degree Celsius target."

"If we want to keep as many options open as possible, we should aim to reduce global emissions to 41 to 47 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2020", says Rogelj. According to the study, the only way to meet the long-term temperature target without carbon capture and storage is to ensure that emissions fall within this near-term range.

"What we do over the next eight years really determines the feasibility and choices that we have in the long term," says Riahi. "Some of these options for policies and technological change are still choices, such as phasing out nuclear power. We lose these choices if we overshoot certain thresholds."

The study goes beyond previous analyses by directly assessing how high emissions in 2020 can go before the long-term target of 2 °C is no longer attainable. "Under some conditions, the two-degree target is feasible even if we don't reduce emissions at all by 2020," says co-author Brian O'Neill, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. "But if we allow for the possibility that some technologies may not pan out, or are overly costly or have undesirable consequences, then emissions reductions have to start this decade."

"Our analysis shows that we are very dependent on key technologies like carbon capture and storage and on land-consuming measures like afforestation and the cultivation of crops for biofuel production," says Rogelj. "If we want to become less dependent on massive implementation of these technologies to make it below two degrees Celsius, we need to reduce emissions by 2020 and use energy more efficiently."

The study highlights the importance of reducing energy demand and improving efficiency as perhaps the most effective way to mitigate this decade, echoing previous work from IIASA and others (Global Energy Assessment, 2012). In scenarios with lower energy demand growth, the researchers find a much greater chance that global temperatures would not rise more than 2 °C, with much more flexibility in the methods and technologies required to reduce greenhouse gases.

"Fundamentally, it's a question of how much society is willing to risk," says IIASA energy researcher David McCollum, another study co-author. "It's certainly easier for us to push the climate problem off for a little while longer, but if we do that, then we risk that certain mitigation options may not ultimately be available in the long run. What's more, from the perspective of the global climate system, continuing to pump high levels of into the atmosphere over the next decade only increases the risk that we will overshoot the two-degree target."

Explore further: Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

More information: Rogelj, J., D.L. McCollum, B.C. O'Neill, and K. Riahi. 2012. 2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2 C. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE1758

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User comments : 20

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deatopmg
2.7 / 5 (19) Dec 16, 2012
More BS from the CAGW send money church.

The results published in the IPCC AG5 draft release shows NO warming for the past 15 yrs but the models all show significant warming http://wattsupwit...-a-poll/ so there must be some other, non-CO2, driver of of climate.

Also admitted to in the release, there appears to be a significant interaction between solar activity and Earths temperature. Who would have thought the sun could have an effect on Earth's climate?

These revelations in the draft report will certainly be hidden when the final AR5 report is released late next year.

Like it or not, the data, even after "adjustment", still trumps ALL the models. That's how real science works!
VendicarD
2.7 / 5 (14) Dec 16, 2012
You used the very same lie in another thread and were exposed as a liar.

"The results published in the IPCC AG5 draft release shows NO warming for the past 15 yrs" - DeaTard

I will do so again.

This is the same data that the IPCC uses. Note the rise in temperature of 0.07'C over the time period that you dishonestly claim that there has been no warming.

http://www.woodfo...98/trend

Do you intend to remain a liar for the rest of your life, Tard Boy?
VendicarD
3 / 5 (14) Dec 16, 2012
I should hope so, since the sun is the source of the energy that keeps the earth from freezing.

"Also admitted to in the release, there appears to be a significant interaction between solar activity and Earths temperature." - DeTard

However, solar output has been in near constant monitoring for more than 100 years, and no change significant enough to explain the observed warming of the Globe as been seen.

The ConservaTard Denialverse has recently become filled with Conservative Idiots claiming that factors other than Solar energy output may be at work in changing the earth's temperature.

On this matter, no one doubts that there are small effects during the solar cycle that are primarily the result of solar wind.

However, Denialist claims that these effects explain the observed warming are 180' out of phase with what should be happening, and the Leaked draft if the IPCC report correctly refers to these statements as coming from skeptics and for which there is no evidence.
VendicarD
2.7 / 5 (12) Dec 16, 2012
Here is the data.

http://www.woodfo...00/trend

"Like it or not, the data, even after "adjustment", still trumps ALL the models." - DeaTard
Meyer
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 16, 2012
This is the same data that the IPCC uses. Note the rise in temperature of 0.07'C over the time period that you dishonestly claim that there has been no warming.

I heard it was 0.07000000001, approximately.
VendicarD
2.3 / 5 (9) Dec 16, 2012
Then you heard correctly. although the person you overheard used far too many significant digits.

"I heard it was 0.07000000001, approximately." - Meyer

Congratulations.
Howhot
3 / 5 (12) Dec 16, 2012
You know, I just don't understand these deniers. They are the people foaling their own nests. They can deny everything in front of them, the giga-tons of facts in the record books, for what? People ask why are we here? I have to ask the deniers; Why are you here?

The 1C temp change we have already gone through since the 60's has impacted the USA with droughts, hurricanes of unusual strength, massively huge wild fires, the re-appearance of the dust bowls, the loss of glaciers, water levels, the increase in urban heat islands, destroyed crops and farmland, the hottest year ever recorded (2012). That's just the USA, but it's like that everywhere, and its attributable to one change; BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!

So to keep us from extinction, we will need to impose government camps on the crazy deniers. All deniers will have to report to camps named the "Al Gore" Peace re-education camps by the UN. There you will be re-educated on your responsibilities to society and mankind
VendicarD
2.7 / 5 (9) Dec 17, 2012
Simple public execution will be the preferred method of ridding the world of denialist vermin.

And it has the advantage of preventing their stupid genes from being passed on to create a new generation of intellectual inferiors.

Plus it lowers the global population.

"All deniers will have to report to camps named the "Al Gore" Peace re-education camps by the UN." - Howhot

It is Win, Win, Win.

I add another Win, because I will take great pleasure in operating the guillotine.

I would even pay for the pleasure and satisfaction it will provide.
Argiod
2.9 / 5 (14) Dec 17, 2012
Hah! We can barely get half the country to agree on anything. How do these people think we can get the whole world to agree to this?
We, who people called 'Hippies' in the Sixties warned people this was coming. If we had been taken seriously back then, there would have been plenty of time to work out a viable solution. Now that the proverbial horse is out of the proverbial barn... it's going to be real hard to put things straight again. In fact, despite what they say, we may already be too far along to do anything about the coming changes the earth is about to go through.
Howhot
2.7 / 5 (7) Dec 17, 2012
Simple public execution will be the preferred method of ridding the world of denialist vermin.

Yeah... like in the movie "Soylent Green",
The scoops are on their way. The scoops are on their way


Such a classic. Here is the best scene in the movie. Soylent Green - The scoops are on their way;
http://www.livele...96901185

All jest of course, but I bring up Soylent Green because, I can see that as one very real potential outcome of global warming and uncontrolled human growth rates. The additional 2C degrees estimated by 2100 are conservative. I've seen as high as 10C by 2100 in some models in some areas and given the trend of measurements toward the higher extremes, that would begin to approach the Scoop level of unrest. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, it might just be too hot to riot!

Shinobiwan Kenobi
2.5 / 5 (11) Dec 17, 2012
I bring up Soylent Green because, I can see that as one very real potential outcome of global warming and uncontrolled human growth rates.


The part about this pediction I find most aggravating is that, chances are, the people making money screwing up the environment will be the forefathers of the people making money processing people into snack-packs.

inb4 a conservatard expresses delight in eating liberal flavored Soylent Green =^-^=
VendicarD
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 17, 2012
Get them before they get you.
PeterD
2.1 / 5 (11) Dec 17, 2012
When are you morons going to realize that global warming has happened several times since the last ice age, most recently 800 AD to 1200AD. We did not cause it then, and we are not causing it now.
djr
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 17, 2012
PeterD - "We did not cause it then, and we are not causing it now."

Do you have any data, or research or anything to support that claim, or just like a hunch you had, or maybe a dream gave you the information?
Q-Star
3 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2012
When are you morons going to realize that global warming has happened several times since the last ice age, most recently 800 AD to 1200AD. We did not cause it then, and we are not causing it now.


A person with a 180 IQ (after taking several tests and getting every answer correct) should be able to tell us morons what caused it then, and what is causing it now.

Well, maybe not. We'll wait with bated breath for Mr. 180 to deign to answer us mere morons.
Howhot
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
Its always fun to watch people like PeterD step up, clear their throats, and make up some BS statement that is a repeat of the right-wing talking machine. Thanks for being the A-Hole we all expected you to be.
VendicarD
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2012
The problem with PeterDTard is that he is a chronic liar.

Just like all of the other <100 IQ denialists.
Caliban
4 / 5 (4) Dec 18, 2012
huh-huh-huh,

He gave himself the nick "peterd", huh-huh-huh!

There's fun to be had.
Howhot
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2012
processing people into snack-packs.

Haha, yeah isn't that the truth? I'll never think of snack-packs the same.
Lurker2358
1.7 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2012
"You would need to shut down a coal power plant each week for ten years if you still wanted to reach the two-degree Celsius target."


Too bad China is opening them about that fast, in spite of also installing dams on every river and wind and solar as much as they can too. Looking at maybe 30 to 50 more years before market saturation in China.

How the hell do you expect China, India, and Pakistan to make room for solar panels anyway? People have to live somewhere, and they have to farm where ever there's relatively level land and water.

Maybe we an afford a few extra degrees of warming. After all, if we warm it up by several degrees then when the next major volcanic winter happens, it will be just right, instead of creating a multi-million deaths world wide famine.

If you could predict there'd be a VEI 8 eruption 50 years from now what would be the course of action?

1, Fill the air with CO2.

2, Pump as much water as possible into the caldera to dissipate energy