Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What would it take to limit climate change to 1.5°C?

21.05.2015

A new study analyzes the required climate policy actions and targets in order to limit future global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. This level is supported by more than 100 countries worldwide, including those most vulnerable to climate change, as a safer goal than the currently agreed international aim of 2 degrees Celsius – an aim which would already imply substantial greenhouse-gas reductions. Hence the interest for scrutinizing the very low end of greenhouse-gas stabilization scenarios.

Limiting temperature rise by 2100 to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius is feasible, at least from a purely technological standpoint, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and others.

The new study examines scenarios for the energy, economy, and environment that are consistent with limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and compares them to scenarios for limiting climate change to 2 degrees Celsius.

“Actions for returning global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 are in many ways similar to those limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius,” says IIASA researcher Joeri Rogelj, one of the lead authors of the study. “However, the more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius goal leaves no space to further delay global mitigation action and emission reductions need to scale up swiftly in the next decades.”

The authors note, however, that the economic, political, and technological requirements to meet even the 2 degrees Celsius target are substantial. In the run-up to climate negotiations in December 2015, such information is important for policymakers considering long-term goals and steps to achieve these goals.

Key elements: accelerated energy efficiency gains and CO2 removal

The study identifies key elements that would need to be in place in order to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target by 2100. One fundamental feature is the tight constraint on future carbon emissions.

“In 1.5 degrees Celsius scenarios, the remaining carbon budget for the 21st century is reduced to almost half compared to 2 degrees Celsius scenarios,” explains PIK researcher Gunnar Luderer, who co-led the study. “As a consequence, deeper emissions cuts are required from all sectors, and global carbon neutrality would need to be reached 10-20 years earlier than projected for 2 degrees Celsius scenarios.”

Faster improvements in energy efficiency also emerge as a key enabling factor for the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. In addition, all the scenarios show that at some point in this century, carbon emissions would have to become negative at a global scale. That means that significant amounts of CO2 would need to be actively removed from the atmosphere. This could occur through technological solutions such as bioenergy use combined with carbon capture and storage - a technology that remains untested on a large scale, increases the pressure on food supply systems and in some cases lacks social acceptance - or through efforts to grow more forests, sequestering carbon in tree trunks and branches. Afforestation, however, just like bioenergy plantations, would have to be carefully balanced against land use requirements for food production.

Overshooting the limit - and declining to 2100

In contrast to many scenarios examined in recent research, which set 2 degrees Celsius as the absolute limit and do not allow temperature to overshoot the target, the current set of scenarios looks at a long term goal, and what would need to happen to get temperature back down to that level by 2100.

“Basically all our 1.5 degrees Celsius scenarios first exceed the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature threshold somewhere in mid-century,” explains Rogelj, “before declining to 2100 and beyond as more and more carbon dioxide is actively removed from the atmosphere by specialized technologies.”

The recent IPCC fifth assessment report did not describe in detail the critical needs for how to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius as the scenarios available to them did not allow for an in-depth analysis. Yet over 100 countries worldwide - over half of the countries in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) - have declared their support for a 1.5 degrees Celsius target on climate change. The target itself is also up for debate at the upcoming climate negotiations. This new study fills this gap.

The authors make clear that an increase of international efforts to curb greenhouse gases is imperative to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target achievable.

“The 1.5 degrees Celsius target leaves very little leeway,” says Luderer. “Any imperfections - be it a further delay of meaningful policy action, or a failure to achieve negative emissions at large scale - will make the 1.5 degrees Celsius target unattainable during this century.”

Article: Rogelj, J., Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R.C., Kriegler, E., Schaeffer, M., Krey, V., Riahi, K. (2015): Energy system transformations for limiting end-of-century warming to below 1.5°C. Nature Climate Change [DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2572]

Weblink to the article once it is published: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE2572

For further information please contact:

Jonas Viering, Sarah Messina, Mareike Schodder
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-Mail: press@pik-potsdam.de
Twitter: @PIK_Climate

Katherine Leitzell
IIASA Press Office
Phone: +43 2236 807 316
Mob: +43 676 83 807 316
E-Mail: leitzell@iiasa.ac.at

Jonas Viering | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung
Further information:
http://www.pik-potsdam.de

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>