26 November, 2014

Disentangling the effects of CO2 and short-lived climate forcer mitigation


Rogelj, Joeri, Schaeffer Michiel, Meinshausen Malte, Shindell Drew T., Hare Bill, Klimont Zbigniew, Velders Guus J. M., Amann Markus, and Schellnhuber Hans Joachim

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times. Human activities, like fossil-fuel burning, result in emissions of radiation-modifying substances that have a detectable, either warming or cooling, influence on our climate. Some, like soot (black carbon), are very short lived, whereas others, like carbon dioxide (CO2), are very persistent and remain in the atmosphere for centuries to millennia. Importantly, these substances are often emitted by common sources. As climate policy is looking at options to limit emissions of all these substances, understanding their linkages becomes extremely important.

Our study disentangles these linkages and therewith helps to avoid crucial misconceptions: measures reducing short-lived climate forcers are complementary to CO2 mitigation, but neglecting linkages leads to overestimating their climate benefits.