How will the Paris Agreement Limit Future Rises in Global Temperature?

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? ( 2 page pdf, Allen A. Fawcett, Gokul C. Iyer, Leon E. Clarke, James A. Edmonds, Nathan E. Hultman, Haewon C. McJeon, Joeri Rogelj, Reed Schuler, Jameel Alsalam, Ghassem R. Asrar, Jared Creason, Minji Jeong, James McFarland, Anupriya Mundra, Wenjing Shi, Science Express Policy Forum, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of various scenarios for CO2 emission reduction, based on the voluntary pledges made by 190 countries attending the Paris conference COP 21. On the assumption that these pledges are implemented, beginning in 2020 and ending in 2030, the longer term implications to limit further warming depend on either a continuation of the level of decarbonization pledged (“Paris continued” which is around 2% per year)or an increase in the reductions (“Paris increased” which is around 5% per year). The probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C is only 8% under Paris continued while limiting it to 4 deg C is 75%. Under Paris increased, the probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C increases to 30%. Under any scenario, the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero before 2100 is required to avoid 2 deg C warming.

cop21 and temp rise

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3 Responses

  1. If trees use carbon and sunlight, could intensive planting of fast growing trees/plants make a measurable difference?

    • Plants absorb carbon dioxide in order to grow but they release it back into the atmosphere when they die or decay – which is why growing trees is good for shade and landscaping but over the long term has zero impact on the environment – aside from the impact of using water to irrigate them and fertilizers to aid growth (which also involves CO2 emissions). On this issue, deforestation of large treed areas in the tropics, such as the Amazon, indeed has a large negative impact on the CO2 in the atmosphere and is a major item to focus on for global mitigation of CO2 by countries in South America, such as Brazil, or in southern African countries. The vast majority of emissions come from activties by individuals such as how much you drive and how much gas you use for heating your home. If action were taken on just these two items by putting an effective price on carbon fuel use, you’d see emissions reduced by easily 50% in short term (see results in BC of carbon tax over last 6-7 years at post on How does demand pricing of carbon work in British Columbia? at

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