Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 111, Issue 3–4, pp 973–981 | Cite as

Is it possible to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C?

A letter
  • N. Ranger
  • L. K. Gohar
  • J. A. Lowe
  • S. C. B. Raper
  • A. Bowen
  • R. E. Ward
Letter

Abstract

This study explores the feasibility of limiting increases in global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. A probabilistic simple climate model is used to identify emissions paths that offer at least a 50% chance of achieving this goal. We conclude that it is more likely than not that warming would exceed 1.5°C, at least temporarily, under plausible mitigation scenarios. We have identified three criteria of emissions paths that could meet the 1.5°C goal with a temporary overshoot of no more than 50 years: early and strong reductions in emissions, with global emissions peaking in 2015 and falling to at most 44–48 GtCO2e in 2020; rapid reductions in annual global emissions after 2020 (of at least 3–4% per year); very low annual global emissions by 2100 (less than 2–4 GtCO2e) and falling to zero (or below) in the 22nd century. The feasibility of these characteristics is uncertain. We conclude that the proposed date of review of the 1.5°C goal, set at 2015, may be too late to achieve the necessary scaling up of emissions cuts to achieve this goal.

Keywords

Emission Reduction Global Emission Global Average Temperature Emission Path Negative Emission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Brian Hoskins, Andrew Gouldson, Piers Forster, Nicholas Stern and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments. Nicola Ranger, Alex Bowen and Robert Ward were supported during this project by Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Laila Gohar and Jason Lowe were supported during this project by the AVOID programme funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), under contract DECC/Defra GA0215. The Met Office Hadley Centre provided scientific input to this work but does not advocate particular policy choices.

Supplementary material

10584_2012_414_MOESM1_ESM.doc (178 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 178 kb)

References

  1. Arora VK, Scinocca JF, Boer GJ, Christian JR, Denman KL, Flato GM, Kharin VV, Lee WG, Merryfield WJ (2011) Carbon emission limits required to satisfy future representative concentration pathways of greenhouse gases. Geophys Res Lett 38:L05805. doi: 10.1029/2010GL046270
  2. Clarke L, Edmonds J, Krey V, Richels R, Rose S, Tavoni M (2009) International climate policy architectures: overview of the EMF 22 International Scenarios. Energ Econ 31:S64–S81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Edenhofer O, Carraro C, Hourcade J-C et al (2009) The Economics of Decarbonization. Report of the RECIPE project. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PotsdamGoogle Scholar
  4. Gohar LK and Lowe JA (2009) Summary of the emissions mitigation scenarios: part 1.Work stream 1, Report 2 of the AVOID programme (AV/WS1/D1/R02). Available online at www.avoid.uk.net
  5. Good P, Gregory JM, Lowe JA and Andrew T Predicting and understanding CMIP5 representive concentration pathway projections using the response to abrupt CO2 change. Submitted to Climate DynamicsGoogle Scholar
  6. Ha-Duong M, Grubb MJ, Hourcad J-C (1997) Influence of socioeconomic inertia and uncertainty on optimal CO2-emission abatement. Nature 390:270–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Knopf B, Edenhofer O, Barker T et al (2009) The economics of low stabilisation: implications for technological change and policy. In: Hulme M, Neufeldt H (eds) Making climate change work for us: ADAM synthesis book. Cambridge University Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  8. Lowe JA, Huntingford C, Raper SCB, Jones CD, Liddicoat SK, Gohar LK (2009) How difficult is it to recover from dangerous levels of global warming? Environ Res Lett. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014012
  9. Magné B, Kypreos S, Turton H (2010) Technological options for low stabilisation pathways with MERGE. Energ J 31:83–107Google Scholar
  10. Matthews HD, Weaver AJ (2010) Committed climate warming. Nat Geosci 3:142–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meinshausen M, Smith SJ, Calvin K, Daniel JS, Kainuma MLT, Larmarque JF, Matsumoto K, Montzka SA, Raper SCB, Riahi K, Thomson A, Velders GJM, van Vuuren DPP (2011) The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300. Clim Chang 109:213–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moss RH, Edmonds JA, Hibbard KA et al (2010) The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature08823
  13. Plattner GK, Knutti R, Joos F et al (2008) Long-term climate commitments projected with climate-carbon cycle models. J Climate 21:2721–2751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ranger N, Bowen A, Lowe J and Gohar L (2009) Mitigating climate change through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: climate science constraints on annual global emissions targets for 2020 and 2050. In “Mitigating climate change through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: the science and economics of future paths for global annual emissions” [Bowen, A and Ranger, N.] Grantham/CCCEP Policy Brief No. 2. http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PBMitigatingBowenRangerDec09.pdf
  15. Royal Society (2009) Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty, Royal Society Policy document 10/09, ISBN: 978-0-85403-773-5Google Scholar
  16. Schewe J, Levermann A, Meinshausen M (2011) Climate change under a scenario near 1.5°C of global warming: monsoon intensification, ocean warming and steric sea level rise. Earth Syst Dynam 2:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2010) The Emissions Gap Report: are the Copenhagen Accord Pledges sufficient to limit global warming to 2C or 1.5C. http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/emissionsgapreport. Accessed 5th September 2011
  18. UNEP (2011) Bridging the Emissions Gap. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_bridging_gap.. Accessed 21st December 2011
  19. van Vuuren DP, den Elzen MGJ, Lucas PL, Eickhout B, Strengers BJ, van Ruijven B, Wonink S, van Houdt R (2007) Stablizing greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels: an assessment of reduction strategies and costs. Clim Chang 81:119–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. van Vuuren DP, Stehfest E, den Elzen MGJ (2011) RCP2.6: exploring the possibility to keep global mean temperature increase below 2°C. Clim Chang 109:95–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wigley TML, Raper SCB (2001) Interpretation of high projections for global-mean warming. Science 293:451–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wise M, Calvin K, Thomson A, Clarke L, Bond-Lamberty B, Sands R, Smith SJ, Janetos A, Edmonds J (2009) Implications for limiting CO2 concentrations for land use and energy. Science 324:1183–1186CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown Copyright 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Ranger
    • 1
  • L. K. Gohar
    • 2
  • J. A. Lowe
    • 2
  • S. C. B. Raper
    • 3
  • A. Bowen
    • 1
  • R. E. Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  2. 2.Met Office Hadley CentreExeterUK
  3. 3.Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)ManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations