Thinking outside the box on climate mitigationJanuary 12, 2018
In a new commentary in the journal Nature Climate Change, IIASA researchers argue that a broader range of scenarios is needed to support international policymakers in the target of limiting climate change to under 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to avoid potential negative environmental and social consequences of carbon dioxide removal on a massive scale.
"Many currently used emissions pathways assume that we can slowly decrease fossil fuel emissions today and make up for it later with heavy implementation of negative emissions technologies," says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, lead author of the article. "This is a problem because it assumes we can put the burden on future generations--which is neither a realistic assumption nor is it morally acceptable from an intergenerational equity point of view."
The researchers point out that 87% of the scenarios in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report that limit climate change to less than 2°C rely heavily on negative emissions in the second half of the century, with most of the carbon dioxide removal coming from a suite of technologies known as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). Assuming that it's even possible to deploy BECCS on the scale required (a big question for a technology that has not yet been widely tested or implemented), massive implementation of land-based carbon dioxide removal strategies would have impacts on both the environment and the food system, with previous research showing trade-offs for food security and environmental conservation.
At the same time, reliance on future negative emissions to achieve climate goals may also fail to account for feedbacks in the climate system such as methane release from thawing permafrost, which are not yet fully understood.
"Many of our scenarios do not account for the uncertainties related to the climate mitigation process. Are our carbon budget estimates reasonable? Are the technologies going to develop the way we need them to be? Are natural carbon sinks reliable, or might they turn around?" says IIASA researcher Johannes Bednar, a coauthor.
In the article, the researchers present four archetype scenarios that incorporate a broader range of potential mitigation options. These include:
- Major reliance on carbon dioxide removal in the future, the current archetype of many existing scenarios for achieving the 2°C or more stringent 1.5°C target.
- Rapid decarbonization starting immediately, and halving every decade as proposed in a recent Science commentary coauthored by IIASA researchers.
- Earlier implementation of carbon dioxide removal technologies, and phasing out by the end of the century
- Consistent implementation of carbon dioxide removal from now until the end of the century.
The article adds to a large body of significant IIASA research on pathways and scenarios for climate mitigation, as well as integrated research on climate and other sustainable development goals. It also provides a critical look at the current outlook for reaching climate targets.
IIASA researcher Fabian Wagner, another study coauthor adds, "In this paper we have shown that negative emission technologies may not only be an asset but also an economic burden if not deployed with care. We as scientists need to be careful when we communicate to policymakers about how realistic different scenarios might be. When we present scenarios that require the world to convert an amount of land equivalent to all today's cropland to energy plantations, alarm bells should go off."
Obersteiner M, Bednar J, Wagner F, Gasser T, Ciais P, Forsell N, Havlik P, Valin H, Janssens IA, Penuelas J, Schmidt-Traub G (2018). How to spend a dwindling greenhouse gas budget. Nature Climate Change doi:10.1038/s41558-017-0045-1
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Related Climate Articles:
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
A group of James Cook University scientists led by Emeritus Professor Ross Alford has designed and built an inexpensive incubator that could boost research into how animals and plants will be affected by climate change.
New research finds that Tweets and Google searches about climate change set new record highs after Leonardo DiCaprio's Academy Awards acceptance speech, suggesting celebrity advocacy for social issues on a big stage can motivate popular engagement.
Researchers use the North Atlantic Oscillation as a predictive tool for managing an iconic fishery.
The ability to predict when toads come out of hibernation in southern Canada could provide valuable insights into the future effects of climate change on a range of animals and plants.
A new report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future.
Related Climate Reading:
The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won't Hear From Al Gore--And Others
by Joe Bastardi (Author)
A revealing look by someone who has loved the weather since his first memory--and has worked in the field for over 40 years--at what is really inside the man-made "climate change" agenda. The author shows through countless examples, the exploitation, politicization, and weaponization of weather and climate in an effort to promote an agenda that runs counter to the foundations this nation was built on. View Details
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change (The Politically Incorrect Guides)
by Marc Morano (Author)
Less freedom. More regulation. Higher costs. Make no mistake: those are the surefire consequences of the modern global warming campaign waged by political and cultural elites, who have long ago abandoned fact-based science for dramatic fearmongering in order to push increased central planning. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change gives a voice -- backed by statistics, real-life stories, and incontrovertible evidence -- to the millions of "deplorable" Americans skeptical about the multibillion dollar "climate change" complex, whose claims have time and time again been... View Details
Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)
Climate change will have a bigger impact on humanity than the Internet has had. The last decade's spate of superstorms, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts has accelerated the public discourse on this topic and lent credence to climatologist Lonnie Thomson's 2010 statement that climate change "represents a clear and present danger to civilization." In June 2015, the Pope declared that action on climate change is a moral issue.
This book offers the most up-to-date examination of climate change's foundational science, its implications for our future, and the core clean energy solutions.... View Details
Climate (Science Readers: Content and Literacy)
by Teacher Created Materials;Teacher Created Materials^Torrey Maloof (Author)
Don't get caught wearing flip flops in the snow! Knowing about the climate of different places will prepare you for any kind of weather. Take a trip from the equator to the polar regions of Earth and learn about the different climate zones in this exciting book. Teach third-grade students about the distinct features of climate zones categorized by latitudinal location. In this high-interest informational text filled with engaging photographs, students will enjoy exploring nonliving features that affect climate development, climate's effects on living things, and the patterns of climate change... View Details
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein (Author)
The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.
In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and... View Details
Climate: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Mark Maslin (Author)
In this wide-ranging Very Short Introduction to climate, Mark Maslin considers all aspects of the global climate system, exploring and explaining the different components that control climate on Earth. He considers the processes that allow energy to reach the Earth and how it is redistributed around the planet by the ocean-atmosphere system; the relationship and differences between climate and the weather; how climate has affected life on Earth and human settlements; and the cyclic and quasi-cyclic features of climate such as the Milankovitch cycles and El Nino. He concludes by touching on... View Details
Financing Education in a Climate of Change (12th Edition)
by Vern Brimley Jr. (Author), Deborah A. Verstegen (Author), Rulon R. Garfield (Author)
This new edition of the classic text in the field of school finance retains the practical tone and superior presentation that made the previous editions best sellers, while presenting the most up-to-date information and material available on key subjects. Here readers get a firm, balanced look of all facets of financing education, clarified and reinforced through numerous clear tables, figures, and key concept lists, and a tone and presentation that illustrates even the most difficult concepts. The new Twelfth Edition of Financing Education in a Climate of... View Details
Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change
by Jim Antal (Author), Bill McKibben (Foreword)
Climate Church, Climate World argues that climate change is the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. Hunger, refugees, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses, war—climate change multiplies all forms of global social injustice. Environmental leader Reverend Jim Antal presents a compelling case that it’s time for the church to meet this moral challenge, just as the church addressed previous moral challenges. Antal calls for the church to embrace a new vocation so that future generations might live in harmony with God’s creation. After describing how we have created the dangers... View Details
What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action
by Per Espen Stoknes (Author), Jorgen Randers (Foreword)
Why does knowing more mean believing―and doing―less? A prescription for change
The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.
It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples―from the private sector to government... View Details
The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change
by Robert Henson (Author)
Everybody can be a thinking person when it comes to climate change, and this book is a perfect roadmap. Start a web search for “climate change” and the first three suggestions are “facts,” “news,” and “hoax.” The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change is rooted in the first, up to date on the second, and anything but the last. Produced by one of the most venerable atmospheric science organizations, it is a must-read for anyone looking for the full story on climate change.
Using global research and written with nonscientists in mind, the Guide... View Details