Zero emission targets as long-term global goals for climate protection

Recently, assessments have robustly linked stabilization of global-mean temperature rise to the necessity of limiting the total amount of emitted carbon-dioxide (CO2). Halting global warming thus requires virtually zero annual CO2 emissions at some point. Policymakers have now incorporated this concept in the negotiating text for a new global climate agreement, but confusion remains about concepts like carbon neutrality, climate neutrality, full decarbonization, and net zero carbon or net zero greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions. This article clarifies these concepts, discusses their appropriateness to serve as a long-term global benchmark for achieving temperature targets, and provides a detailed quantification.

Date Published
2015, March

Rogelj, J., Schaeffer, M., Meinshausen, M., Knutti R., Alcamo, J., Riahi, K., Hare, W.

Environmental Research Letters
10, 105007, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/10/105007