Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Limited options for meeting 2°C warming target, warn climate change experts

21.11.2011
We will only achieve the target of limiting global warming to safe levels if carbon dioxide emissions begin to fall within the next two decades and eventually decrease to zero. That is the stark message from research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Exeter, published today (20 November) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The research focuses on the scale of carbon emission reduction needed to keep future global warming at no more than two degrees Celsius over average temperatures prior to the Industrial Revolution. This target is now almost universally accepted as a safe limit.

The team examined the extent to which carbon emissions should be reduced, how steep this reduction needs to be and how soon we should begin. They used mathematical modelling techniques to construct a number of possible future scenarios, based on different assumptions on emissions reduction. They accounted for a likely range of climate sensitivities: the amount of warming for a given increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The research shows how quickly emissions need to drop in the next few decades. It also highlights how remaining emissions could cause the two-degrees target to be exceeded in the long term, over the next few hundred years.

The researchers found that zero or negative emissions are compatible with this target if we reduce our global carbon emissions by at least three per cent per year within the next two decades.

In a worst-case scenario of high climate sensitivity, we need to work towards negative emissions if we are to have a chance to keeping temperatures within the two-degrees target. This would mean using carbon-capture-and-storage technology combined with aggressive mitigation rates starting in the coming decade. The best-case scenario of low climate sensitivity allows longer delays and more conservative mitigation rates, but still requires emissions to be eventually cut by at least 90%.

The results clearly show that if we delay reducing global emissions by just ten or twenty years we will then need to make much steeper reductions in order to meet a two-degrees warming target.

Lead author Professor Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter said: "When I analysed these results, I was surprised to see so few options available to us. We know we need to tackle global warming, but our research really emphasises the urgency of the situation. The only way for us to achieve a safe future climate will be to reduce emissions by at least three per cent, starting as soon as possible. The longer we leave it, the harder it will be."

Countries currently have different targets for carbon emission reductions. For example, the US proposes a 17 per cent reduction by 2020, the EU has set a target of a 20 to 30 per cent reduction by 2020 and Australia has an objective of a five to 25 per cent reduction by 2020, depending on other countries commitment.

"The good news is that it's not too late," said co-author Professor Susan Solomon of the University of Colorado. "The interesting news is that we really need to think in the very long-term as well as the near-term. Even a small amount of remaining emissions would eventually mean exceeding the target so we need to ensure that technologies are available to make our world carbon-free in the long run."

The research was carried out by the University of Exeter (UK), University of Colorado (USA), University of Bern (Switzerland), ETH (Switzerland), CEA-CNRS (France) and CSIRO (Australia).

Sarah Hoyle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>