Linking Mid-century Concentration Targets to Long-Term Climate Change Outcomes

Wang JS, O'Neill BC, & Chameides WL (2007). Linking Mid-century Concentration Targets to Long-Term Climate Change Outcomes. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-07-022

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Abstract

We present a framework that could inform the choice of an interim (mid-21st century) target in the making of climate mitigation policy. The idea of interim targets for greenhouse gas concentration has been proposed previously as a way to bridge short- and long-term climate targets, address concerns about the rate of temperature change, and provide guidance in planning for energy infrastructure while scientific understanding improves and long-term climate goals are negotiated. Our analysis relates a wide range of mid-century equivalent CO2 (eCO2) concentrations to rates of temperature increase as well as total long-term temperature increases, accounts for uncertainties in the carbon cycle and the climate response (including climate sensitivity, ocean diffusivity, and aerosol forcing), and provides a rough measure of the economic feasibility of different emissions pathways. Our results show, for example, that for a roughly 50% likelihood of limiting long-term warming to 20C above the pre-industrial level, and with the constraint that global emissions should not have to be reduced by more than 2.5%/year, the mid-century concentration needs to remain below about 470 ppm eCO2 (including only the Kyoto gases and defined relative to a year 2000 baseline). For a roughly 83% likelihood of achieving the same temperature goal, the mid-century target needs to be about 440 ppm. These targets require that emissions between 2010 and 2050 average to approximately the current level and the 1990 level, respectively. Our framework illustrates how delay in emissions reductions in the near term forecloses options in the long term. Finally, we demonstrate how near-term reductions of CO2 from a particular source, deforestation, can significantly facilitate the achievement of long-term temperature goals.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Population and Climate Change (PCC)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2016 10:03
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/8435

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