The relationship between short-term emissions and long-term concentration targets: A letter

van Vuuren DP & Riahi K (2011). The relationship between short-term emissions and long-term concentration targets: A letter. Climatic Change 104 (3): 793-801. DOI:10.1007/s10584-010-0004-6.

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Abstract

The relationship between long-term climate goals and short/medium-term emission targets forms crucial information for the design of international climate policy. Since IPCC's 4th Assessment Report (AR4), a large number of new scenario studies have been published. This paper reviews this new literature and finds that there is more flexibility in the timing of short-term emission reductions compared to the earlier scenarios assessed by the AR4. For instance, the current literature suggests that a peak of emissions in 2020 and even 2030 would be consistent with limiting temperature change to about 2 degrees Celsius in the long term. The timing when emissions peak depends on whether negative emissions in the long-term can be achieved. The recent scenarios further indicate that global emissions by 2050 should be 40-80% below 2000 levels. Above all, the paper argue that there is no clear, single "law" that would directly determine the required emissions levels in 2020, but that instead policy-makers need to consider trade-offs between the likelihood of achieving long-term targets, the short-term costs, and their expectation with respect to future technologies (and their possible failure). The higher flexibility might be important in finding acceptable agreements on international climate policy.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Bibliographic Reference: Climatic Change; 104(3-4):793-801 (February 2011) (Published online 15 December 2010)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:45
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2016 16:49
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/9654

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