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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-82
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-82
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 10 Jan 2020

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Constraints on long term warming in a climate mitigation scenario

Benjamin Sanderson Benjamin Sanderson
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder CO, USA

Abstract. Cumulative emissions budgets and net-zero emission target dates are often used to frame climate negotiations (Frameet al., 2014; Millar et al., 2016; Van Vuuren et al., 2016; Rogelj et al., 2015b; Matthews et al., 2012). However, their utilityfor near-term policy decisions is confounded by an uncertainties in future negative emissions capacity (Fuss et al., 2014; Smith et al., 2016; Larkin et al., 2018; Anderson and Peters, 2016) and in long term Earth System response to climate forcers(Rugenstein et al., 2019; Knutti et al., 2017; Armour, 2017) which may impact the utility of an indefinite carbon budget if peak temperatures occur significantly after net zero emissions are achieved, the likelihood of which in a simple model is conditionalon prior assumptions about the long term dynamics of the Earth System. Here we illustrate that the risks associated with nearterm positive emissions can be framed using a definite cumulative emissions budget with a 2040 time horizon, allowing thenecessity and scope for negative emissions deployment later in the century to be better informed by observed warming overcoming decades.

Benjamin Sanderson
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Short summary
Levels of future temperature change are often used interchangeably with carbon budget allowances in climate policy – a relatively robust relationship on the timescale of this century. However, recent advances in understanding underline that continued warming after net-zero emissions have been achieved cannot be ruled out by observations of warming to date. We consider here how such behavior could be constrained, and how policy can be framed in the context of these uncertainties.
Levels of future temperature change are often used interchangeably with carbon budget allowances...
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