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 | 2017-06-22
Fisheries in least developed countries among world’s most vulnerable to climate change
Research news | 2017-06-21
Placed-based sustainability efforts often fail to recognise the risk of piling up the environmental pressure elsewhere
Research news | 2017-06-15
How an ongoing project aims to develop positive visions of the Anthropocene for southern Africa and beyond
General news | 2017-06-13
Centre director selected from a global short-list of remarkable candidates demonstrating "extraordinary leadership in mid-career"
Research news | 2017-06-12
New study explores how information and collaboration influence governance networks, and highlights trade-offs and benefits of using adaptive policies
Educational news | 2017-06-12
We seek change makers for LEAP - a new leadership programme on human and planetary opportunities