Constraints on global temperature target overshoot

TitleConstraints on global temperature target overshoot
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRicke K.L, Millar R.J, MacMartin D.G
JournalScientific Reports
Date Published2017/11
ISBN Number2045-2322

In the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, the climate science and policy communities are beginning to assess the feasibility and potential benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C or 2 °C above preindustrial. Understanding the dependence of the magnitude and duration of possible temporary exceedance (i.e., “overshoot”) of temperature targets on sustainable energy decarbonization futures and carbon dioxide (CO2) removal rates will be an important contribution to this policy discussion. Drawing upon results from the mitigation literature and the IPCC Working Group 3 (WG3) scenario database, we examine the global mean temperature implications of differing, independent pathways for the decarbonization of global energy supply and the implementation of negative emissions technologies. We find that within the scope of scenarios broadly-consistent with the WG3 database, the magnitude of temperature overshoot is more sensitive to the rate of decarbonization. However, limiting the duration of overshoot to less than two centuries requires ambitious deployment of both decarbonization and negative emissions technology. The dependencies of temperature target overshoot’s properties upon currently untested negative emissions technologies suggests that it will be important to consider how climate impacts depend on both the magnitude and duration of overshoot, not just long term residual warming.

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