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Although the Paris Agreement's goals (1) are aligned with science (2) and can, in principle, be technically and economically achieved (3), alarming inconsistencies remain between science-based targets and national commitments. Despite progress during the 2016 Marrakech climate negotiations, long-term goals can be trumped by political short-termism. Following the Agreement, which became international law earlier than expected, several countries published mid-century decarbonization strategies, with more due soon. Model-based decarbonization assessments (4) and scenarios often struggle to capture transformative change and the dynamics associated with it: disruption, innovation, and nonlinear change in human behavior. For example, in just 2 years, China's coal use swung from 3.7% growth in 2013 to a decline of 3.7% in 2015 (5). To harness these dynamics and to calibrate for short-term realpolitik, we propose framing the decarbonization challenge in terms of a global decadal roadmap based on a simple heuristic—a “carbon law”—of halving gross anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions every decade. Complemented by immediately instigated, scalable carbon removal and efforts to ramp down land-use CO2 emissions, this can lead to net-zero emissions around mid-century, a path necessary to limit warming to well below 2°C.
Research news | 2018-01-18
New book on the evolution of social innovation and how to make them more transformative
Research news | 2018-01-16
Official aid for oceans and fisheries in developing world drops by 30%
General news | 2018-01-15
Executive director Johan Röckstrom will discuss the "carbon law" and researcher Maja Schlüter will discuss “amplifying feedbacks” that make it more difficult for people to change their behaviour
Research news | 2017-12-29
Why university campuses play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable development
Research news | 2017-12-21
New study looks at whether marine plastic pollution should be considered as a component of chemical pollutants in planetary boundaries framework
Research news | 2017-12-19
Will lead new new Advisory Committee together with Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies, India