skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?

Abstract

Here, the 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to 2 or 1.5°C above preindustrial level, although combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are likely insufficient to achieve these targets. We propose a set of idealized emission pathways consistent with the targets. If countries reduce emissions in line with their INDCs, the 2°C threshold could be avoided only if net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) are achieved by 2085 and late century negative emissions are considerably in excess of those assumed in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6 (net –5 Gt CO2/yr, compared with –1.5 Gt CO2/yr in RCP2.6). More aggressive near-term reductions would allow 2°C to be avoided with less end-of-century carbon removal capacity. A 10% cut in GHGEs by 2030 (relative to 2015) could likely achieve 2°C with RCP2.6 level negative emissions. The 1.5°C target requires GHGEs to be reduced by almost a third by 2030 and net zero by 2050, while a 50 year overshoot of 1.5°C allows net zero GHGEs by 2060.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1438457
Grant/Contract Number:  
FC02-97ER62402
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 43; Journal Issue: 13; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Sanderson, Benjamin M., O'Neill, Brian C., and Tebaldi, Claudia. What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1002/2016GL069563.
Sanderson, Benjamin M., O'Neill, Brian C., & Tebaldi, Claudia. What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?. United States. doi:10.1002/2016GL069563.
Sanderson, Benjamin M., O'Neill, Brian C., and Tebaldi, Claudia. Mon . "What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?". United States. doi:10.1002/2016GL069563. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1438457.
@article{osti_1438457,
title = {What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets?},
author = {Sanderson, Benjamin M. and O'Neill, Brian C. and Tebaldi, Claudia},
abstractNote = {Here, the 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to 2 or 1.5°C above preindustrial level, although combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are likely insufficient to achieve these targets. We propose a set of idealized emission pathways consistent with the targets. If countries reduce emissions in line with their INDCs, the 2°C threshold could be avoided only if net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) are achieved by 2085 and late century negative emissions are considerably in excess of those assumed in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6 (net –5 Gt CO2/yr, compared with –1.5 Gt CO2/yr in RCP2.6). More aggressive near-term reductions would allow 2°C to be avoided with less end-of-century carbon removal capacity. A 10% cut in GHGEs by 2030 (relative to 2015) could likely achieve 2°C with RCP2.6 level negative emissions. The 1.5°C target requires GHGEs to be reduced by almost a third by 2030 and net zero by 2050, while a 50 year overshoot of 1.5°C allows net zero GHGEs by 2060.},
doi = {10.1002/2016GL069563},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
number = 13,
volume = 43,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {6}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 58 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Warming caused by cumulative carbon emissions towards the trillionth tonne
journal, April 2009

  • Allen, Myles R.; Frame, David J.; Huntingford, Chris
  • Nature, Vol. 458, Issue 7242
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature08019

Emission pathways consistent with a 2 °C global temperature limit
journal, October 2011

  • Rogelj, Joeri; Hare, William; Lowe, Jason
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 1, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1258

Impact of short-lived non-CO 2 mitigation on carbon budgets for stabilizing global warming
journal, July 2015


Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation
journal, January 2013

  • Rogelj, Joeri; McCollum, David L.; Reisinger, Andy
  • Nature, Vol. 493, Issue 7430
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature11787

Can radiative forcing be limited to 2.6 Wm−2 without negative emissions from bioenergy AND CO2 capture and storage?
journal, January 2013


Sharing a quota on cumulative carbon emissions
journal, September 2014

  • Raupach, Michael R.; Davis, Steven J.; Peters, Glen P.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2384

Uncertainties in CMIP5 Climate Projections due to Carbon Cycle Feedbacks
journal, January 2014

  • Friedlingstein, Pierre; Meinshausen, Malte; Arora, Vivek K.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 27, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00579.1

Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal
journal, October 2014

  • Victor, David G.; Kennel, Charles F.
  • Nature, Vol. 514, Issue 7520
  • DOI: 10.1038/514030a

Locked into Copenhagen pledges — Implications of short-term emission targets for the cost and feasibility of long-term climate goals
journal, January 2015


Atmospheric stabilization and the timing of carbon mitigation
journal, February 2008

  • Mignone, Bryan K.; Socolow, Robert H.; Sarmiento, Jorge L.
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 88, Issue 3-4
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-007-9391-8

Persistent growth of CO2 emissions and implications for reaching climate targets
journal, September 2014

  • Friedlingstein, P.; Andrew, R. M.; Rogelj, J.
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 7, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2248

Assessing the effectiveness of direct injection for ocean carbon sequestration under the influence of climate change
journal, January 2005


1.5°C or 2°C: a conduit’s view from the science-policy interface at COP20 in Lima, Peru
journal, March 2015


Model-based estimation of the global carbon budget and its uncertainty from carbon dioxide and carbon isotope records
journal, December 1999

  • Kheshgi, Haroon S.; Jain, Atul K.; Wuebbles, Donald J.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 104, Issue D24
  • DOI: 10.1029/1999JD900992

Long-term climate implications of twenty-first century options for carbon dioxide emission mitigation
journal, November 2011

  • Friedlingstein, P.; Solomon, S.; Plattner, G-K.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 1, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1302

Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "reasons for concern"
journal, February 2009

  • Smith, J. B.; Schneider, S. H.; Oppenheimer, M.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0812355106

The representative concentration pathways: an overview
journal, August 2011


The link between a global 2 °C warming threshold and emissions in years 2020, 2050 and beyond
journal, January 2012


Rate and velocity of climate change caused by cumulative carbon emissions
journal, August 2015


Postponing emission reductions from 2020 to 2030 increases climate risks and long-term costs: A letter
journal, January 2010

  • den Elzen, Michel G. J.; van Vuuren, Detlef P.; van Vliet, Jasper
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 99, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-010-9798-5

Global carbon budget 2014
journal, January 2014

  • Le Quéré, C.; Moriarty, R.; Andrew, R. M.
  • Earth System Science Data Discussions, Vol. 7, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.5194/essdd-7-521-2014

Mitigation implications of midcentury targets that preserve long-term climate policy options
journal, January 2010

  • O'Neill, B. C.; Riahi, K.; Keppo, I.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0903797106

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?
journal, November 2015


The potential for land-based biological CO 2 removal to lower future atmospheric CO 2 concentration
journal, October 2010


Biophysical and economic limits to negative CO2 emissions
journal, December 2015

  • Smith, Pete; Davis, Steven J.; Creutzig, Felix
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2870

Energy system transformations for limiting end-of-century warming to below 1.5 °C
journal, May 2015

  • Rogelj, Joeri; Luderer, Gunnar; Pietzcker, Robert C.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2572

Betting on negative emissions
journal, September 2014

  • Fuss, Sabine; Canadell, Josep G.; Peters, Glen P.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2392

Trajectory sensitivity of the transient climate response to cumulative carbon emissions
journal, April 2014

  • Krasting, J. P.; Dunne, J. P.; Shevliakova, E.
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 41, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013GL059141

Climate change mitigation: trade-offs between delay and strength of action required
journal, April 2009

  • Vaughan, Naomi E.; Lenton, Timothy M.; Shepherd, John G.
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 96, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-009-9573-7

The Closing Door of Climate Targets
journal, November 2012


An Interior Trust Region Approach for Nonlinear Minimization Subject to Bounds
journal, May 1996

  • Coleman, Thomas F.; Li, Yuying
  • SIAM Journal on Optimization, Vol. 6, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1137/0806023

Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 °C
journal, April 2009

  • Meinshausen, Malte; Meinshausen, Nicolai; Hare, William
  • Nature, Vol. 458, Issue 7242
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature08017

Climate constraints on the carbon intensity of economic growth
journal, September 2015


Carbon lock-in through capital stock inertia associated with weak near-term climate policies
journal, January 2015


What do recent advances in quantifying climate and carbon cycle uncertainties mean for climate policy?
journal, October 2008


    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Mobility, food and housing: responsibility, individual consumption and demand-side policies in European deep decarbonisation pathways
    journal, June 2018


    Wetlands In a Changing Climate: Science, Policy and Management
    journal, April 2018


    Path Independence of Carbon Budgets When Meeting a Stringent Global Mean Temperature Target After an Overshoot
    journal, December 2019

    • Tokarska, Katarzyna B.; Zickfeld, Kirsten; Rogelj, Joeri
    • Earth's Future, Vol. 7, Issue 12
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019ef001312

    Extreme Precipitation in China in Response to Emission Reductions under the Paris Agreement
    journal, June 2019


    Sulfate geoengineering: a review of the factors controlling the needed injection of sulfur dioxide
    journal, January 2017

    • Visioni, Daniele; Pitari, Giovanni; Aquila, Valentina
    • Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 17, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.5194/acp-17-3879-2017

    Mobility, food and housing: responsibility, individual consumption and demand-side policies in European deep decarbonisation pathways
    journal, June 2018


    Wetlands In a Changing Climate: Science, Policy and Management
    journal, April 2018


    Path Independence of Carbon Budgets When Meeting a Stringent Global Mean Temperature Target After an Overshoot
    journal, December 2019

    • Tokarska, Katarzyna B.; Zickfeld, Kirsten; Rogelj, Joeri
    • Earth's Future, Vol. 7, Issue 12
    • DOI: 10.1029/2019ef001312

    Extreme Precipitation in China in Response to Emission Reductions under the Paris Agreement
    journal, June 2019


    Sulfate geoengineering: a review of the factors controlling the needed injection of sulfur dioxide
    journal, January 2017

    • Visioni, Daniele; Pitari, Giovanni; Aquila, Valentina
    • Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 17, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.5194/acp-17-3879-2017

    Hazards of decreasing marine oxygen: the near-term and millennial-scale benefits of meeting the Paris climate targets
    journal, January 2018