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What is meant by ‘balancing sources and sinks of greenhouse gases’ to limit global temperature rise?

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Title: What is meant by ‘balancing sources and sinks of greenhouse gases’ to limit global temperature rise?
Authors: Thomas, R
Graven, H
Hoskins, B
Prentice, I
Item Type: Report
Abstract: In an effort to limit global temperature rise to well below 2˚C, the COP21 Paris Agreement stipulates that a ‘balance’ between anthropogenic (man-made) sources and sinks of greenhouse gases must be reached by 2050-2100. An overall greenhouse gas ‘balance’ must consider individual gases in terms of how strongly they absorb solar infrared radiation, their concentration in the atmosphere, and their lifetime in the atmosphere. • Long-lived greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), accumulate in the atmosphere and continue to affect the climate for many centuries. To stabilise the concentrations of these long-lived gases, and thereby their effect on the climate, their sources must be progressively reduced towards zero. • For short-lived greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere for less than 100 years, including methane, stable or decreasing concentrations could be achieved within decades if emissions were stabilised or decreased. However, these gases currently only contribute about 20% of the total warming from greenhouse gases, so their reduction alone cannot successfully stabilise global temperature. • An overall ‘balance’ of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases could be facilitated by deliberate removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, for example, by combining biomass energy production with carbon capture and storage. Most current greenhouse gas emission scenarios that keep global temperature rise below 2˚C include some deliberate removal of CO2 to compensate for continued emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/72413
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25561/72413
Journal / Book Title: Grantham Institute Briefing Note
Sponsor/Funder: AXA Research Fund
Funder's Grant Number: AXA Chair Programme in Biosphere and Climate Impacts
Place of Publication: Imperial College London
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 3
Appears in Collections:Physics
Centre for Environmental Policy
Department of Life Sciences



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