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The challenge of the Paris Agreement to contain climate change



Climate change due to anthropogenic CO 2 and other greenhouse gas emissions has had and will continue to have widespread negative impacts on human society and natural ecosystems. Drastic and concerted actions should be undertaken immediately if such impacts are to be prevented. The Paris Agreement on climate change aims to limit global mean temperature below 2 °C compared to the pre-industrial level. Using simulation and optimization tools and the most recent data, this paper investigates optimal emissions policies satisfying certain temperature constraints. The results show that only if we consider negative emissions coupled with drastic emissions reductions, temperature could be stabilized at about 2.5 °C, otherwise higher temperatures could possibly occur. To this end, two scenarios are developed based on the national emissions reduction plan of China and the USA. According to the simulation results, the objective of keeping temperature rise under 2 °C cannot be met. Clearly, negative emissions are needed if the Paris targets are to be given a chance for success. However, the feasibility of negative emissions mainly depends on technologies not yet developed. Reliance on future technological breakthroughs could very well prove unfounded and provide excuses for continued carbon releases with possible severe and irreversible climate repercussions. Thus, the Paris Agreement needs immediate amendments that will lead to stronger mitigation and adaptation commitments if it is to stay close to its goals.



Total Pages: 12
Pages: 319-330


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Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Year: 2018


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ISSN PRINT: 1079-8587
ISSN ONLINE: 2326-005X
DOI PREFIX: 10.31209
10.1080/10798587 with T&F
IMPACT FACTOR: 0.652 (2017/2018)
Journal: 1995-Present


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