Paris climate change summit could go halfway to avoiding global warming of more than 2°C
Pledges by countries ahead of the Paris climate change summit this year to cut greenhouse gas emissions could move the world up to halfway between ‘business as usual’ and a pathway that would offer a reasonable chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2 centigrade degrees, according to a report published today (30 October 2015) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science.
The authors – Rodney Boyd, Joe Cranston Turner and Bob Ward – find that projected global emissions of greenhouse gases in 2030 resulting from the actions outlined in ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs) would be between about 53 and 61 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent.
The lower end of this range is nearly halfway between 68 billion tonnes for a hypothetical ‘business as usual’ pathway in 2030, and 36 billion tonnes for a pathway that would offer a 50-66 per cent chance of avoiding a rise in global average temperature of more than 2 centigrade degrees.
This finding, based on an analysis of INDCs submitted by 23 October by 154 countries, is published exactly one month before the start of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.
The INDCs submitted so far would reduce annual global emissions to about 52.9 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent in 2030 if all countries meet their most ambitious conditional and unconditional targets.
However, some countries, including India and China, have made pledges about future emissions which are uncertain and depend on their levels of economic growth. This could mean that, excluding conditional targets made by some countries, annual global emissions in 2030 would be between 54.1 and 61.2 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent.
This means that the INDCs would not reduce emissions enough to give a 50-66 per cent chance of limiting the rise in global average temperature to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Annual global emissions would need to be reduced to below 42 gigatonnes to avoid warming of more than 2°C, assuming that negative emissions can be achieved later this century through technologies such as bioenergy and carbon capture and storage.
The paper concludes that “while there has been progress compared with a ‘business as usual’ global emissions pathway, there is a gap between the emissions pathway that would result from current ambitions and plans, including those goals outlined by the submitted INDCs, and a pathway that is consistent with a reasonable chance of limiting the rise in global average temperature to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”
The authors call for “the creation of a mechanism, to be included in the agreement emerging from COP21 in Paris in December 2015, for countries to review their efforts and to find ways of ramping up the ambition of their emissions reductions by 2030 and beyond, taking into account the multiple economic benefits, including from reductions in local air pollution, resulting from measures to limit climate change risks”.
They also highlight a need for “an intensification of efforts to increase investment and innovation, particularly in relation to the development of cities, energy systems and land use, that could help to close the gap between intentions and the goal before and after 2030”.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (http://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham) was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (http://www.granthamfoundation.org/).
- The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (https://www.cccep.ac.uk) is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/). The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.