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Assessing “dangerous climate change”: required reduction of carbon emissions to protect young people, future generations and nature

Assessing “dangerous climate change”: required reduction of carbon emissions to protect young people, future generations and nature
Assessing “dangerous climate change”: required reduction of carbon emissions to protect young people, future generations and nature
We assess climate impacts of global warming using ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. We use Earth’s measured energy imbalance, paleoclimate data, and simple representations of the global carbon cycle and temperature to define emission reductions needed to stabilize climate and avoid potentially disastrous impacts on today’s young people, future generations, and nature. A cumulative industrial-era limit of ~500 GtC fossil fuel emissions and 100 GtC storage in the biosphere and soil would keep climate close to the Holocene range to which humanity and other species are adapted. Cumulative emissions of ~1000 GtC, sometimes associated with 2°C global warming, would spur “slow” feedbacks and eventual warming of 3–4°C with disastrous consequences. Rapid emissions reduction is required to restore Earth’s energy balance and avoid ocean heat uptake that would practically guarantee irreversible effects. Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice. Responsible policymaking requires a rising price on carbon emissions that would preclude emissions from most remaining coal and unconventional fossil fuels and phase down emissions from conventional fossil fuels.
1932-6203
1-26
Añel, Juan A.
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Hansen, James
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Kharecha, Pushker
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Sato, Makiko
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Masson-Delmotte, Valerie
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Ackerman, Frank
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Beerling, David J.
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Hearty, Paul J.
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Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove
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Hsu, Shi-Ling
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Parmesan, Camille
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Rockstrom, Johan
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Rohling, Eelco J.
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Sachs, Jeffrey
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Smith, Pete
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Steffen, Konrad
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Van Susteren, Lise
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von Schuckmann, Karina
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Zachos, James C.
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Añel, Juan A.
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Hansen, James
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Kharecha, Pushker
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Sato, Makiko
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Masson-Delmotte, Valerie
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Ackerman, Frank
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Beerling, David J.
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Hearty, Paul J.
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Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove
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Hsu, Shi-Ling
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Parmesan, Camille
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Rockstrom, Johan
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Rohling, Eelco J.
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Sachs, Jeffrey
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Smith, Pete
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Steffen, Konrad
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Van Susteren, Lise
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von Schuckmann, Karina
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Zachos, James C.
c262d59f-aadc-4e09-b844-098db9a0e3c5

Añel, Juan A., Hansen, James, Kharecha, Pushker, Sato, Makiko, Masson-Delmotte, Valerie, Ackerman, Frank, Beerling, David J., Hearty, Paul J., Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove, Hsu, Shi-Ling, Parmesan, Camille, Rockstrom, Johan, Rohling, Eelco J., Sachs, Jeffrey, Smith, Pete, Steffen, Konrad, Van Susteren, Lise, von Schuckmann, Karina and Zachos, James C. (2013) Assessing “dangerous climate change”: required reduction of carbon emissions to protect young people, future generations and nature. PLoS ONE, 8 (12), 1-26. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We assess climate impacts of global warming using ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. We use Earth’s measured energy imbalance, paleoclimate data, and simple representations of the global carbon cycle and temperature to define emission reductions needed to stabilize climate and avoid potentially disastrous impacts on today’s young people, future generations, and nature. A cumulative industrial-era limit of ~500 GtC fossil fuel emissions and 100 GtC storage in the biosphere and soil would keep climate close to the Holocene range to which humanity and other species are adapted. Cumulative emissions of ~1000 GtC, sometimes associated with 2°C global warming, would spur “slow” feedbacks and eventual warming of 3–4°C with disastrous consequences. Rapid emissions reduction is required to restore Earth’s energy balance and avoid ocean heat uptake that would practically guarantee irreversible effects. Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice. Responsible policymaking requires a rising price on carbon emissions that would preclude emissions from most remaining coal and unconventional fossil fuels and phase down emissions from conventional fossil fuels.

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Published date: 3 December 2013
Organisations: Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 360318
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/360318
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 21306a77-3876-4a63-9c55-bd5032a69dfd
ORCID for Eelco J. Rohling: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5349-2158

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Date deposited: 04 Dec 2013 13:06
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 13:06

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Contributors

Author: Juan A. Añel
Author: James Hansen
Author: Pushker Kharecha
Author: Makiko Sato
Author: Valerie Masson-Delmotte
Author: Frank Ackerman
Author: David J. Beerling
Author: Paul J. Hearty
Author: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Author: Shi-Ling Hsu
Author: Camille Parmesan
Author: Johan Rockstrom
Author: Jeffrey Sachs
Author: Pete Smith
Author: Konrad Steffen
Author: Lise Van Susteren
Author: Karina von Schuckmann
Author: James C. Zachos

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