Measuring Success: Improving Assessments of Aggregate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goals

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Date
2018
Volume
6
Issue
9
Journal
Earth's Future
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Publisher
Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Inc
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Abstract

Long-term success of the Paris Agreement will depend on the effectiveness of the instruments that it sets in place. Key among these are the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which elaborate country-specific goals for mitigating and adapting to climate change. One role of the academic community and civil society in supporting the Paris Agreement is to assess the consistency between the near-term action under NDCs and the agreement's long-term goals, thereby providing insight into the chances of long-term success. Here we assess the strengths and weaknesses of current methods to estimate the effectiveness of the mitigation component of NDCs and identify the scientific and political advances that could be made to improve confidence in evaluating NDCs against the long-term goals. Specifically, we highlight (1) the influence of post-2030 assumptions on estimated 21st century warming, (2) uncertainties arising from the lack of published integrated assessment modeling scenarios with long-term, moderate effort reflecting a continuation of the current political situation, and (3) challenges in using a carbon budget approach. We further identify aspects that can be improved in the coming years: clearer communication regarding the meaning, likelihood, and timeframe of NDC consistent warming estimates; additional modeling of long-term, moderate action scenarios; and the identification of metrics for assessing progress that are not based solely on emissions, such as infrastructure investment, energy demand, or installed power capacity.

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Jeffery, M. L., Gütschow, J., Rocha, M. R., & Gieseke, R. (2018). Measuring Success: Improving Assessments of Aggregate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Goals (Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Inc). Chichester : John Wiley and Sons Inc. https://doi.org//10.1029/2018EF000865
License
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Unported