Limiting global warming to any level requires limiting the total amount of CO2 emissions, or staying within a CO2 budget. Here we assess how emissions from short-lived non-CO2 species like methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black-carbon, and sulphates influence these CO2 budgets.
Our default case, which assumes mitigation in all sectors and of all gases, results in a CO2 budget between 2011–2100 of 340 PgC for a >66% chance of staying below 2°C, consistent with the assessment of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Extreme variations of air-pollutant emissions from black-carbon and sulphates influence this budget by about ±5%. In the hypothetical case of no methane or HFCs mitigation—which is unlikely when CO2 is stringently reduced—the budgets would be much smaller (40% or up to 60%, respectively).
However, assuming very stringent CH4 mitigation as a sensitivity case, CO2 budgets could be 25% higher. A limit on cumulative CO2 emissions remains critical for temperature targets.
Even a 25% higher CO2 budget still means peaking global emissions in the next two decades, and achieving net zero CO2 emissions during the third quarter of the 21st century. The leverage we have to affect the CO2 budget by targeting non-CO2 diminishes strongly along with CO2 mitigation, because these are partly linked through economic and technological factors.
Unabated: the Carbon Capture and Storage 86 billion tonne carbon bomb aimed at derailing a fossil phase out
The climate talks at COP28 have centred around the need for a fossil fuel phase out. Our analysis quantifies the risk posed by restricting a phase out commitment to only ‘unabated’ fossil fuels.
No change to warming as fossil fuel endgame brings focus onto false solutions
The CAT's annual warming estimate has risen by 0.1˚C to 2.5˚C. The estimate is largely influenced by weak existing targets rather than shifts triggered by updated Nationally Determined Contributions.
When will global greenhouse gas emissions peak?
The IPCC says peaking before 2025 is a critical step to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach. With emissions set to rise in 2023, this leaves limited time to act. To assess if we can meet this milestone, we look at when global emissions might peak, as well as what we can do to get there in time.
Wind and solar benchmarks for a 1.5°C world
This report presents a detailed methodology for determining the amount of wind and solar capacity that is required for a country to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal. While the focus of the report is the method, it includes illustrative benchmarks for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa.
A 1.5°C future is possible: getting fossil fuels out of the Philippine power sector
The Philippines is also one of the fastest-growing developing countries: poverty is in decline, access to energy is rising and, with that, demand for energy services. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy system, accounting for 78% of power generation in 2022. This report sets out what the Philippines government needs to do to get the country’s power sector onto a 1.5˚C compatible emissions pathway, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Production Gap Report 2023
Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk.
Emissions impossible: Unpacking CSIRO GISERA Beetaloo Middle Arm fossil gas emissions estimates
This report provides an independent evaluation of the CSIRO and GISERA assessments of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the exploitation of the Beetaloo fossil shale gas reserves.
Adjusting 1.5°C climate change mitigation pathways in light of adverse new information
This study uses an integrated assessment model to explore how 1.5°C pathways could adjust in light of new adverse information, such as a reduced 1.5°C carbon budget, or slower-than-expected low-carbon technology deployment.
Railway development: lessons for the EU
This paper analyses how EU railway policy for a low-carbon future can be enhanced, drawing insights from Japan and Switzerland.