A roadmap for rapid decarbonization

Rockström, J., Gaffney, O., Rogelj, J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2056-9061, Meinshausen, M., Nakicenovic, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7176-4604, & Schellnhuber, H.J. (2017). A roadmap for rapid decarbonization. Science 355 (6331) 1269-1271. 10.1126/science.aah3443.

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Project: The World in 2050 (TWI2050)


Although the Paris Agreement's goals (1) are aligned with science (2) and can, in principle, be technically and economically achieved (3), alarming inconsistencies remain between science-based targets and national commitments. Despite progress during the 2016 Marrakech climate negotiations, long-term goals can be trumped by political short-termism. Following the Agreement, which became international law earlier than expected, several countries published mid-century decarbonization strategies, with more due soon. Model-based decarbonization assessments (4) and scenarios often struggle to capture transformative change and the dynamics associated with it: disruption, innovation, and nonlinear change in human behavior. For example, in just 2 years, China's coal use swung from 3.7% growth in 2013 to a decline of 3.7% in 2015 (5). To harness these dynamics and to calibrate for short-term realpolitik, we propose framing the decarbonization challenge in terms of a global decadal roadmap based on a simple heuristic—a “carbon law”—of halving gross anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions every decade. Complemented by immediately instigated, scalable carbon removal and efforts to ramp down land-use CO2 emissions, this can lead to net-zero emissions around mid-century, a path necessary to limit warming to well below 2°C.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2017 07:53
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2022 11:46
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/14498

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