10 November, 2013

What does the 2°C target imply for a global climate agreement in 2020? The limits study on Durban Platform scenarios


Kriegler, E., Tavoni, M., Aboumahboub, T., Luderer, G., Calvin, K., Demaere, G., Krey, V., Riahi, K., Rösler, H., Schaeffer, M. and van Vuuren, D.P.

This paper provides a novel and comprehensive model-based assessment of possible outcomes of the Durban Platform negotiations with a focus on emissions reduction requirements, the consistency with the 2°C target and global economic impacts.

The Durban Platform scenarios investigated in the LIMITS study — all assuming the implementation of comprehensive global emission reductions after 2020, but assuming different 2020 emission reduction levels as well as different long-term concentration targets — exhibit a probability of exceeding the 2°C limit of 22–41% when reaching 450 (450–480) ppm CO2e, and 35–59% when reaching 500 (480–520) ppm CO2e in 2100. Forcing and temperature show a peak and decline pattern for both targets.

Consistency of the resulting temperature trajectory with the 2°C target is a societal choice, and may be based on the maximum exceedance probability at the time of the peak and the long run exceedance probability, e.g., in the year 2100.

The challenges of implementing a long-term target after a period of fragmented near-term climate policy can be significant as reflected in steep reductions of emissions intensity and transitional and long-term economic impacts. In particular, the challenges of adopting the target are significantly higher in 2030 than in 2020, both in terms of required emissions intensity decline rates and economic impacts.

We conclude that an agreement on comprehensive emissions reductions to be implemented from 2020 onwards has particular significance for meeting long-term climate policy objectives.