Mitigation implications of midcentury targets that preserve long-term climate policy options

O'Neill BC, Riahi K, & Keppo I (2010). Mitigation implications of midcentury targets that preserve long-term climate policy options. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (3): 1011-1016. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0903797106.

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Abstract

Midcentury targets have been proposed as a guide to climate change policy that can link long-term goals to shorter-term actions. However no explicit mitigation analyses have been carried out of the relationship between midcentury conditions and longer-term outcomes. Here we use an integrated assessment modeling framework with a detailed representation of the energy sector to examine the dependence of climate change outcomes in 2100 on emissions levels, atmospheric concentrations, and technology characteristics in 2050. We find that midcentury conditions are crucial determinants of longer-term climate outcomes, and we identify feasibility thresholds describing conditions that must be met by midcentury to keep particular long-term options open. For example, to preserve the technical feasibility of a 50% likelihood of keeping global average temperature at <2 degrees C above preindustrial in 2100, global emissions must be reduced by about 20% below 2000 levels by 2050. Results are sensitive to several assumptions, including the nature of future socio-economic development. In a scenario with high demand for energy and land, being below 2 degrees C with 50% likelihood requires a 50% reduction in emissions below 2000 levels by 2050, which is only barely feasible with known technologies in that scenario. Results suggest that a greater focus on midcentury targets could facilitate the development of policies that preserve potentially desirable long-term options.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate change; integrated assessment; emission target; mitigation
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Population and Climate Change (PCC)
Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Bibliographic Reference: PNAS; 107(3):1011-1016 (19 January 2010) (Published online 13 January 2010)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:44
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:26
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/9285

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