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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
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    Europe’s renewable energy directive poised to harm global forests
    ([London] : Nature Publishing Group UK, 2018) Searchinger, Timothy D.; Beringer, Tim; Holtsmark, Bjart; Kammen, Daniel M.; Lambin, Eric F.; Lucht, Wolfgang; Raven, Peter; van Ypersele, Jean-Pascal
    This comment raises concerns regarding the way in which a new European directive, aimed at reaching higher renewable energy targets, treats wood harvested directly for bioenergy use as a carbon-free fuel. The result could consume quantities of wood equal to all Europe’s wood harvests, greatly increase carbon in the air for decades, and set a dangerous global example.
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    Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth's climate by 2050
    (2020) Otto, Ilona M.; Donges, Jonathan F.; Cremades, Roger; Bhowmik, Avit; Hewitt, Richard J.; Lucht, Wolfgang; Rockström, Johan; Allerberger, Franziska; McCaffrey, Mark; Doe, Sylvanus S.P.; Lenferna, Alex; Morán, Nerea; van Vuuren, Detlef P.; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim
    Safely achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement requires a worldwide transformation to carbon-neutral societies within the next 30 y. Accelerated technological progress and policy implementations are required to deliver emissions reductions at rates sufficiently fast to avoid crossing dangerous tipping points in the Earth's climate system. Here, we discuss and evaluate the potential of social tipping interventions (STIs) that can activate contagious processes of rapidly spreading technologies, behaviors, social norms, and structural reorganization within their functional domains that we refer to as social tipping elements (STEs). STEs are subdomains of the planetary socioeconomic system where the required disruptive change may take place and lead to a sufficiently fast reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The results are based on online expert elicitation, a subsequent expert workshop, and a literature review. The STIs that could trigger the tipping of STE subsystems include 1) removing fossil-fuel subsidies and incentivizing decentralized energy generation (STE1, energy production and storage systems), 2) building carbon-neutral cities (STE2, human settlements), 3) divesting from assets linked to fossil fuels (STE3, financial markets), 4) revealing the moral implications of fossil fuels (STE4, norms and value systems), 5) strengthening climate education and engagement (STE5, education system), and 6) disclosing information on greenhouse gas emissions (STE6, information feedbacks). Our research reveals important areas of focus for larger-scale empirical and modeling efforts to better understand the potentials of harnessing social tipping dynamics for climate change mitigation.
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    Freshwater resources under success and failure of the Paris climate agreement
    (Göttingen : Copernicus Publ., 2019) Heinke, Jens; Müller, Christoph; Lannerstad, Mats; Gerten, Dieter; Lucht, Wolfgang
    Population growth will in many regions increase the pressure on water resources and likely increase the number of people affected by water scarcity. In parallel, global warming causes hydrological changes which will affect freshwater supply for human use in many regions. This study estimates the exposure of future population to severe hydrological changes relevant from a freshwater resource perspective at different levels of global mean temperature rise above pre-industrial level (ΔTglob). The analysis is complemented by an assessment of water scarcity that would occur without additional climate change due to population change alone; this is done to identify the population groups that are faced with particularly high adaptation challenges. The results are analysed in the context of success and failure of implementing the Paris Agreement to evaluate how climate mitigation can reduce the future number of people exposed to severe hydrological change. The results show that without climate mitigation efforts, in the year 2100 about 4.9 billion people in the SSP2 population scenario would more likely than not be exposed to severe hydrological change, and about 2.1 billion of them would be faced with particularly high adaptation challenges due to already prevailing water scarcity. Limiting warming to 2 °C by a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement would strongly reduce these numbers to 615 million and 290 million, respectively. At the regional scale, substantial water-related risks remain at 2 °C, with more than 12% of the population exposed to severe hydrological change and high adaptation challenges in Latin America and the Middle East and north Africa region. Constraining δTglob to 1.5 °C would limit this share to about 5% in these regions. ©2019 Author(s).
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    Biomass production in plantations: Land constraints increase dependency on irrigation water
    (Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell, 2018) Jans, Yvonne; Berndes, Göran; Heinke, Jens; Lucht, Wolfgang; Gerten, Dieter
    Integrated assessment model scenarios project rising deployment of biomass-using energy systems in climate change mitigation scenarios. But there is concern that bioenergy deployment will increase competition for land and water resources and obstruct objectives such as nature protection, the preservation of carbon-rich ecosystems, and food security. To study the relative importance of water and land availability as biophysical constraints to bioenergy deployment at a global scale, we use a process-detailed, spatially explicit biosphere model to simulate rain-fed and irrigated biomass plantation supply along with the corresponding water consumption for different scenarios concerning availability of land and water resources. We find that global plantation supplies are mainly limited by land availability and only secondarily by freshwater availability. As a theoretical upper limit, if all suitable lands on Earth, besides land currently used in agriculture, were available for bioenergy plantations (“Food first” scenario), total plantation supply would be in the range 2,010–2,300 EJ/year depending on water availability and use. Excluding all currently protected areas reduces the supply by 60%. Excluding also areas where conversion to biomass plantations causes carbon emissions that might be considered unacceptably high will reduce the total plantation supply further. For example, excluding all areas where soil and vegetation carbon stocks exceed 150 tC/ha (“Carbon threshold savanna” scenario) reduces the supply to 170–290 EJ/year. With decreasing land availability, the amount of water available for irrigation becomes vitally important. In the least restrictive land availability scenario (“Food first”), up to 77% of global plantation biomass supply is obtained without additional irrigation. This share is reduced to 31% for the most restrictive “Carbon threshold savanna” scenario. The results highlight the critical—and geographically varying—importance of co-managing land and water resources if substantial contributions of bioenergy are to be reached in mitigation portfolios.
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    The world’s biggest gamble
    (Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2016) Rockström, Johan; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim; Hoskins, Brian; Ramanathan, Veerabhadran; Schlosser, Peter; Brasseur, Guy Pierre; Gaffney, Owen; Nobre, Carlos; Meinshausen, Malte; Rogelj, Joeri; Lucht, Wolfgang
    The scale of the decarbonisation challenge to meet the Paris Agreement is underplayed in the public arena. It will require precipitous emissions reductions within 40 years and a new carbon sink on the scale of the ocean sink. Even then, the world is extremely likely to overshoot. A catastrophic failure of policy, for example, waiting another decade for transformative policy and full commitments to fossil‐free economies, will have irreversible and deleterious repercussions for humanity's remaining time on Earth. Only a global zero carbon roadmap will put the world on a course to phase‐out greenhouse gas emissions and create the essential carbon sinks for Earth‐system stability, without which, world prosperity is not possible.
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    The limits to global-warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal
    (Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2017) Boysen, Lena R.; Lucht, Wolfgang; Gerten, Dieter; Heck, Vera; Lenton, Timothy M.; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim
    Massive near‐term greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a precondition for staying “well below 2°C” global warming as envisaged by the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, extensive terrestrial carbon dioxide removal (tCDR) through managed biomass growth and subsequent carbon capture and storage is required to avoid temperature “overshoot” in most pertinent scenarios. Here, we address two major issues: First, we calculate the extent of tCDR required to “repair” delayed or insufficient emissions reduction policies unable to prevent global mean temperature rise of 2.5°C or even 4.5°C above pre‐industrial level. Our results show that those tCDR measures are unable to counteract “business‐as‐usual” emissions without eliminating virtually all natural ecosystems. Even if considerable (Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 [RCP4.5]) emissions reductions are assumed, tCDR with 50% storage efficiency requires >1.1 Gha of the most productive agricultural areas or the elimination of >50% of natural forests. In addition, >100 MtN/yr fertilizers would be needed to remove the roughly 320 GtC foreseen in these scenarios. Such interventions would severely compromise food production and/or biosphere functioning. Second, we reanalyze the requirements for achieving the 160–190 GtC tCDR that would complement strong mitigation action (RCP2.6) in order to avoid 2°C overshoot anytime. We find that a combination of high irrigation water input and/or more efficient conversion to stored carbon is necessary. In the face of severe trade‐offs with society and the biosphere, we conclude that large‐scale tCDR is not a viable alternative to aggressive emissions reduction. However, we argue that tCDR might serve as a valuable “supporting actor” for strong mitigation if sustainable schemes are established immediately.
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    Three centuries of dual pressure from land use and climate change on the biosphere
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2015) Ostberg, Sebastian; Schaphoff, Sibyll; Lucht, Wolfgang; Gerten, Dieter
    Human land use and anthropogenic climate change (CC) are placing mounting pressure on natural ecosystems worldwide, with impacts on biodiversity, water resources, nutrient and carbon cycles. Here, we present a quantitative macro-scale comparative analysis of the separate and joint dual impacts of land use and land cover change (LULCC) and CC on the terrestrial biosphere during the last ca. 300 years, based on simulations with a dynamic global vegetation model and an aggregated metric of simultaneous biogeochemical, hydrological and vegetation-structural shifts. We find that by the beginning of the 21st century LULCC and CC have jointly caused major shifts on more than 90% of all areas now cultivated, corresponding to 26% of the land area. CC has exposed another 26% of natural ecosystems to moderate or major shifts. Within three centuries, the impact of LULCC on landscapes has increased 13-fold. Within just one century, CC effects have caught up with LULCC effects.
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    A multi-model analysis of risk of ecosystem shifts under climate change
    (Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2013) Warszawski, Lila; Friend, Andrew; Ostberg, Sebastian; Frieler, Katja; Lucht, Wolfgang; Schaphoff, Sibyll; Beerling, David; Cadule, Patricia; Ciais, Philippe; Clark, Douglas B.; Kahana, Ron; Ito, Akihiko; Keribin, Rozenn; Kleidon, Axel; Lomas, Mark; Nishina, Kazuya; Pavlick, Ryan; Rademacher, Tim Tito; Buechner, Matthias; Piontek, Franziska; Schewe, Jacob; Serdeczny, Olivia; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim
    Climate change may pose a high risk of change to Earth's ecosystems: shifting climatic boundaries may induce changes in the biogeochemical functioning and structures of ecosystems that render it difficult for endemic plant and animal species to survive in their current habitats. Here we aggregate changes in the biogeochemical ecosystem state as a proxy for the risk of these shifts at different levels of global warming. Estimates are based on simulations from seven global vegetation models (GVMs) driven by future climate scenarios, allowing for a quantification of the related uncertainties. 5–19% of the naturally vegetated land surface is projected to be at risk of severe ecosystem change at 2 ° C of global warming (ΔGMT) above 1980–2010 levels. However, there is limited agreement across the models about which geographical regions face the highest risk of change. The extent of regions at risk of severe ecosystem change is projected to rise with ΔGMT, approximately doubling between ΔGMT = 2 and 3 ° C, and reaching a median value of 35% of the naturally vegetated land surface for ΔGMT = 4 °C. The regions projected to face the highest risk of severe ecosystem changes above ΔGMT = 4 °C or earlier include the tundra and shrublands of the Tibetan Plateau, grasslands of eastern India, the boreal forests of northern Canada and Russia, the savanna region in the Horn of Africa, and the Amazon rainforest.