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!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
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...
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...
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,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine