Implications of possible interpretations of 'greenhouse gas balance' in the Paris Agreement

Title: Implications of possible interpretations of 'greenhouse gas balance' in the Paris Agreement
Author(s): Fuglestvedt, J
Rogelj, J
Millar, RJ
Allen, M
Boucher, O
Cain, M
Forster, PM
Kriegler, E
Shindell, D
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The main goal of the Paris Agreement as stated in Article 2 is ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’. Article 4 points to this long-term goal and the need to achieve ‘balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases'. This statement on ‘greenhouse gas balance’ is subject to interpretation, and clarifications are needed to make it operational for national and international climate policies. We study possible interpretations from a scientific perspective and analyse their climatic implications. We clarify how the implications for individual gases depend on the metrics used to relate them. We show that the way in which balance is interpreted, achieved and maintained influences temperature outcomes. Achieving and maintaining net-zero CO2-equivalent emissions conventionally calculated using GWP100 (100-year global warming potential) and including substantial positive contributions from short-lived climate-forcing agents such as methane would result in a sustained decline in global temperature. A modified approach to the use of GWP100 (that equates constant emissions of short-lived climate forcers with zero sustained emission of CO2) results in global temperatures remaining approximately constant once net-zero CO2-equivalent emissions are achieved and maintained. Our paper provides policymakers with an overview of issues and choices that are important to determine which approach is most appropriate in the context of the Paris Agreement. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The Paris Agreement: understanding the physical and social challenges for a warming world of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels'.
Publication Date: 13-May-2018
Date of Acceptance: 21-Dec-2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/60638
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2016.0445
ISSN: 1364-503X
Publisher: The Royal Society
Journal / Book Title: PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A-MATHEMATICAL PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES
Volume: 376
Issue: 2119
Copyright Statement: © 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Paris Agreement
net-zero emissions
CO2 equivalence
greenhouse gas balance
emission metrics
CARBON-DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
CLIMATE-CHANGE
SCIENCE
TEMPERATURE
MITIGATION
REMOVAL
METRICS
CO2 equivalence
Paris Agreement
emission metrics
greenhouse gas balance
net-zero emissions
Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Paris Agreement
net-zero emissions
CO2 equivalence
greenhouse gas balance
emission metrics
CARBON-DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
CLIMATE-CHANGE
SCIENCE
TEMPERATURE
MITIGATION
REMOVAL
METRICS
MD Multidisciplinary
General Science & Technology
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: ARTN 20160445
Online Publication Date: 2018-04-02
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences



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