Climatic Change

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 933–941 | Cite as

Emission metrics under the 2 °C climate stabilization target

  • Katsumasa TanakaEmail author
  • Daniel J. A. Johansson
  • Brian C. O’Neill
  • Jan S. Fuglestvedt


In multi-gas climate policies such as the Kyoto Protocol one has to decide how to compare the emissions of different greenhouse gases. The choice of metric could have significant implications for mitigation priorities considered under the prospective negotiations for climate mitigation agreements. Several metrics have been proposed for this task with the Global Warming Potential (GWP) being the most common. However, these metrics have not been systematically compared to each other in the context of the 2 °C climate stabilization target. Based on a single unified modeling framework, we demonstrate that metric values span a wide range, depending on the metric structure and the treatment of the time dimension. Our finding confirms the basic salient point that metrics designed to represent different aspects of the climate and socio-economic system behave differently. Our result also reflects a complex interface between science and policy surrounding metrics. Thus, it is important to select or design a metric suitable for climate stabilization based on an interaction among practitioners, policymakers, and scientists.


Time Horizon Climate Policy Global Warming Potential Radiative Efficiency Integrate Assessment Model 
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.



This study was presented at the Sixth International Symposium on Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases (NCGG-6), Amsterdam, The Netherlands. November 2–4, 2011. This project is supported by Norwegian Research Council under the project “Climate feedback uncertainty and its policy implications (ClimUP)” (Project number: 203807). K. Tanaka is funded by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (Proposal N° 255568 under FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IEF). Contributions by J. S. Fuglestvedt are supported by Norwegian Research Council under the project “Climate and health impacts of Short-Lived Atmospheric Components (SLAC)” (Project number: 208277). Contributions by D. J. A. Johansson are supported by the Swedish Energy Agency.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_693_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (747 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 746 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katsumasa Tanaka
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel J. A. Johansson
    • 3
  • Brian C. O’Neill
    • 4
  • Jan S. Fuglestvedt
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)ZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.CICERO (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo)OsloNorway
  3. 3.Division of Physical Resource Theory, Department of Energy and EnvironmentChalmers University of TechnologyGothenburgSweden
  4. 4.NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research)BoulderUSA

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