Science Assessment
and Analysis

Climate science is highly complex and the policy implications are not always clear. We make the latest climate science easily accessible for stakeholders in the international climate change arena.

 ©Sarah Depper, CC BY 2.0
©Sarah Depper, CC BY 2.0

Emission pathways and climate goals

After setting long-term climate goals, one needs to estimate emission pathways and emission budgets consistent with these climate goals. With a particular focus on 1.5 and 2°C pathways, we evaluate a wide range of emission pathways consistent with climate goals and explore the various strategies to bring emissions down globally and regionally.

Latest

A new analysis of the scientific and policy aspects of the 1.5°C temperature limit in the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal has identified a number of important areas that require more scientific research.  
The Paris climate conference set the ambitious goal of finding ways to limit global warming to 1.5C, rather than the previous threshold of 2C. But what would be the difference? And how realistic is such a target? Article quoting research by Climate Analytics' Michiel Schaeffer and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner.  
Three Dutch judges sent a shock wave around the world on Wednesday when they ordered the government of the Netherlands to act on climate change by making deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. With oil, gas, and coal companies still among the world’s most richly valued assets, that may seem hard to imagine. But the Dutch court case is a clear signal “to people who are investing in the 20th century instead of the 21st that the legal risks of investing in fossil fuels are only going to increase,” Moffett said. His words echoed another expert’s statement; Bill Hare of Climate Analytics told The New York Times that the ruling “has the potential to become a precedent whose effect will ultimately flow through to undermining the markets for coal, oil, and gas.”  
A Dutch court ordered the government Wednesday to slash greenhouse gas emissions to help fight global warming, a landmark ruling in a case brought by hundreds of concerned citizens that could pave the way for similar legal battles around the world. Greenpeace called the Dutch ruling "a game-changer in the fight against climate change." Bill Hare, senior scientist at Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization based in Berlin, said the Dutch ruling's impact could be massive.  

Publications

A new analysis of the scientific and policy aspects of the 1.5°C temperature limit in the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal has identified a number of important areas that require more scientific research. The analysis, written by a team of scientists who have published key research papers on the science, impacts and policy aspects of the 1.5˚C limit, is a centrepiece of a collection by Nature Climate Change, Nature Geoscience and Nature on 'Targeting 1.5°C'  
Robust appraisals of climate impacts at different levels of global-mean temperature increase are vital to guide assessments of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The 2015 Paris Agreement includes a two-headed temperature goal: “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. This paper provides an assessment of key impacts of climate change at warming levels of 1.5°C and 2°C, including extreme weather events, water availability, agricultural yields, sea-level rise and risk of coral reef loss- The results reveal substantial differences in impacts between a 1.5°C and 2°C warming that are highly relevant for the assessment of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This article has been accepted.  
Many impacts projected for a global warming level of 2 °C relative to pre-industrial levels may exceed the coping capacities of particularly vulnerable countries. Therefore, many countries advocate limiting warming to below 1.5 °C. This article contains an analysis of integrated energy–economy–environment scenarios that keep warming to below 1.5 °C by 2100. It finds that in such scenarios, energy-system transformations are in many aspects similar to 2 °C-consistent scenarios, but show a faster scale-up of mitigation action in most sectors, leading to observable differences in emission reductions in 2030 and 2050. The move from a 2 °C- to a 1.5 °C-consistent world will be achieved mainly through additional reductions of CO2. This implies an earlier transition to net zero carbon emissions worldwide, to be achieved between 2045 and 2060. Energy efficiency and stringent early reductions are key to retain a possibility for limiting warming to below 1.5 °C by 2100. The window for achieving this goal is small and rapidly closing.  
This briefing paper analyses the available information in the 2014 UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2014 (‘EGR’) and the IPCC AR5 to produce recommended benchmark emission levels for 2020, 2025 and 2030. We evaluate the implications of the data in the 2014 UNEP EGR and the IPCC AR5 for benchmark emission levels that can be used to assess whether the aggregate level of pledges put forward for 2025 and 2030 - in the context of the ADP negotiations - are consistent with limiting warming below 2°C, and with limiting warming below a 1.5°C increase above preindustrial. We also review the outcome of the 2014 UNEP EGR in relation to the emissions gap for 2020, 2025, and 2030. Results are put in the context of the 2013 UNEP EGR and of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, and differences explained.  
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.  

Projects

IMPACT is a cross-cutting, multi-faceted project that aims to strengthen the connections between the scientific assessments of climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to help enable access to finance and help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) implement concrete projects.  
Science and policy to assist and support SIDSs and LDCs to negotiate a strong international climate regime, enabling low carbon development and supporting adaptation needs.  
This project aims to establish a scientifically robust and transparent link between the latest climate-economic science data and the Climate Bonds Initiative’s project universe. The Framework's goal is to ensure that project categories certified under the Climate Bond Standards represent mitigation actions that current climate science finds most relevant in order to keep global warming below 2° C. Project period: 2015 - 2016.  
PREVENT is built around a team of experienced climate scientists and analysts, whose objective is to provide science, policy, strategic and analytical support for delegations of the LDCs and SIDS, backed by science-based models to assess and synthesize climate science. Project Period: 2008 - 2011