16 November, 2016

The ten most important short-term steps to limit warming to 1.5°C

Limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C requires major transformations that need to begin immediately. We provide insights on the ten most important steps that need to be taken in specific sectors in the short term — to 2020 and 2025 — if the Paris Agreement temperature goal is to be met.

We used modelled scenarios to provide guidance on what needs to happen in each sector. The stringency of the 1.5°C limit significantly constrains the levels of freedom to spread emission reductions across sectors, countries and over time.

As a result of the limited carbon budget, combined with the inertia of energy, transport, industry technologies and systems, and the difficulty of reducing emissions in some sectors, global energy models find only limited pathways.

If a sector does less, in particular the energy, industry and transport sectors, it would leave a high-emissions legacy for several decades and would mean a failure to set in motion the system changes needed to achieve the required long-term transformation.

Efforts in all of these sectors that begin by 2020, and accelerate by 2025, will be needed to reach zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century, and zero greenhouse gas emissions overall roughly in the 2060s.

For all ten elements we show there are signs that the transition of this magnitude is possible: in some specific cases it’s already happening. Achieving these ten steps in the period to 2020 and 2025 would put the world on a pathway to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.