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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Broader range of scenarios needed for policymakers to limit warming to under 2°C

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January 12, 2018 International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) read full ScienceDaily article here

A new article lays the groundwork for alternative climate mitigation scenarios that place less reliance on unproven negative emissions technologies in the future.

…”Many currently used emissions pathways assume that we can slowly decrease fossil fuel emissions today and make up for it later with heavy implementation of negative emissions technologies,” says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, lead author of the article. “This is a problem because it assumes we can put the burden on future generations — which is neither a realistic assumption nor is it morally acceptable from an intergenerational equity point of view.

….The researchers present four archetype scenarios that incorporate a broader range of potential mitigation options. These include:

Under all these scenarios, current country commitments under the Paris Agreement would not be sufficient to achieve the required cuts, the researchers say…

….IIASA researcher Fabian Wagner, another study coauthor adds, “In this paper we have shown that negative emission technologies may not only be an asset but also an economic burden if not deployed with care. We as scientists need to be careful when we communicate to policymakers about how realistic different scenarios might be. When we present scenarios that require the world to convert an amount of land equivalent to all today’s cropland to energy plantations, alarm bells should go off.

Michael Obersteiner, Johannes Bednar, Fabian Wagner, Thomas Gasser, Philippe Ciais, Nicklas Forsell, Stefan Frank, Petr Havlik, Hugo Valin, Ivan A. Janssens, Josep Peñuelas, Guido Schmidt-Traub. How to spend a dwindling greenhouse gas budget. Nature Climate Change, 2018; 8 (1): 7 DOI: 10.1038/s41558-017-0045-1

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