New IIASA research shows how measures to reduce emissions of short-lived climate forcers can impact global carbon budgets for limiting climate change to below 2°C over pre-industrial levels.
Limiting warming to any level requires CO2 emissions to be kept to within a certain limit known as a carbon budget. Can reducing shorter-lived climate forcers influence the size of this budget? A new IIASA study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters analyzes the impact of short-lived air pollutant and greenhouse gas reductions on carbon budgets compatible with the 2°C climate target.
Short-lived greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants—including methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon or soot, and sulfates— are emitted by human activities and also contribute to climate change, but remain in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide (CO2).
Some of these emissions, such as methane have a strong warming effect, while others act to cool the atmosphere, making their role in climate change mitigation complicated to nail down.
“To limit global warming to any level, the total amount of carbon-dioxide emissions needs to be limited to a certain budget,” says Rogelj. “We knew that warming from non-CO2 gases like methane or some air pollutants, can influence the size of this carbon budget. The question was, how much?”
The study examines how stringently reducing each climate forcer separately would affect the size of the carbon budget. The researchers found that reducing methane emissions stringently in the second half of the century could increase the size of the carbon budget for meeting the 2°C target by 2100 by about 20%. In the long term, CO2 emissions thus still need to reach net zero. Strict controls on pollutants such as black carbon, by contrast, had only a small impact on the carbon budget of around 5%.
The new study is the first to quantify the influence of non-CO2 emissions reductions for future global carbon budgets.
“Our findings are important from a policy perspective. The pressure on the 2°C compatible CO2 budget will be extremely high if we are not successful in mitigating non-CO2 emissions for example from meat and rice production,” says IIASA Energy Program Director Keywan Riahi, a co-author on the study. “Hedging against these risks requires us to not put all of our eggs into one basket, and instead to pursue stringent reductions of CO2 in combination with efforts to limit non-CO2 emissions.”
IIASA research has shown that climate and air pollution are closely linked from an economic and policy standpoint, and addressing both together could bring joint benefits for health and environment at a fraction of the cost. For example, a recent study led by
Rogelj quantified how actions to reduce CO2 emissions would also lead to reduced SLCP emissions, because CO2 and some SLCPs are emitted by the same sources, for example diesel engines which emit both CO2 and black carbon. Yet, the other way around, air pollution measures alone would not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The new study takes that research a step further and applies it to carbon budgets. It provides a quantitative scenario analysis of how reductions of black carbon, methane, HFCs, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide can complement and help the transition to a zero-carbon future.
Joeri Rogelj, Malte Meinshausen, Michiel Schaeffer, Reto Knutti, and Keywan Riahi, 2015. Impact of short-lived non-CO2 mitigation on carbon budgets for stabilizing global warming Environ. Res. Lett. 10 075001 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/7/075001
Background: IIASA research on air pollution and climate change
IASA research has shown that climate and air pollution are closely linked from an economic and policy standpoint, and addressing both together could bring joint benefits for health and environment at a lower cost than addressing these issues separately.
See the references below for more on the topic:
Joeri Rogelj, Andy Reisinger, David L. McCollum, Reto Knutti, Keywan Riahi, Malte Meinshausen, 2015. Mitigation choices impact carbon budget size compatible with low temperature goals. Environ. Res. Lett. 10 075003 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/7/075003
Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Malte Meinshausen, Drew T. Shindell, William Hare, Zbigniew Klimont, Guus J. Velders, Markus Amann, John Schellnhuber, 2014. Disentangling the effects of CO2 and short-lived climate forcer mitigation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111 16325-16330 doi:10.1073/pnas.1415631111
Drew T. Shindell, et al., 2012. Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security. Science 335 183-189 doi:10.1126/science.1210026
For more information contact:
IIASA Energy Program
+43(0) 2236 807 393
IIASA Energy Program
+43(0) 2236 807 491
IIASA Press Office
Tel: +43 2236 807 316
Mob: +43 676 83 807 316
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at
MSc Katherine Leitzell | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy