Mitigating near-term climate change

Abstract

Rapid reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is critical to constrain climate warming to socially acceptable levels. This urgency is reflected in the timeline of corporate emission reductions targets: 89% of corporate emissions targets are set for the year 2030 or sooner (figure 1(a)). Immediate cuts of emissions of long-lived climate pollutants (LLCPs), like carbon dioxide (CO2), will not mitigate the effects of climate change that society is beginning to experience. This is because LLCP emissions remain in the atmosphere over the long term. Mitigating the near-term climate change that society has begun to experience requires removing LLCPs from the atmosphere (Keller et al 2018) and cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), like methane (CH4) (Nisbet et al 2020), that have strong warming effects in the first few years after their emission. Despite the need to mitigate near-term climate change, common emissions accounting methods prioritize the impact of interventions over the long term (e.g. 100 years). We synthesize three key criteria for a rigorous framework to measure near-term climate impacts, including both reduced emissions of SLCPs and the removal of CO2. These criteria are: separate accounting for SLCPs, quantify removal durability rather than assume permanence, and adopt dynamic baseline accounting methods.

Description

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Keywords

carbon removal, carbon sequestration, near-term climate change, net-zero, short-lived climate pollutants

Citation

Wood, S.A., Hayhoe, K., Bradford, M.A., Kuebbing, S.E., Ellis, P.W., Fuller, E., & Bossio, D.. 2023. Mitigating near-term climate change. Environmental Research Letters, 18(10). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/acfdbd

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