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Importance of the pre-industrial baseline for likelihood of exceeding Paris goals

Schurer, A. P., Mann, M. E., Hawkins, E., Tett, S. F. B. and Hegerl, G. C. (2017) Importance of the pre-industrial baseline for likelihood of exceeding Paris goals. Nature Climate Change, 7 (8). pp. 563-567. ISSN 1758-678X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3345

Abstract/Summary

During the Paris Conference of December 2015, nations of the world strengthened the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by agreeing to holding “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. However, “pre-industrial” was not defined. Here we investigate the implications of different choices of the pre-industrial baseline on the likelihood of exceeding these two temperature thresholds. We find that for scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP4.5 the probability of exceeding the temperature thresholds and timing of exceedance is highly dependent on the pre-industrial baseline, for example the probability of crossing 1.5°C by the end of the century under the strongest mitigation scenario, RCP2.6, varies from 61% to 88% depending on how the baseline is defined. In contrast, in the scenario with no mitigation, RCP8.5, both thresholds will almost certainly be exceeded by the middle of the century with the definition of the pre-industrial baseline of less importance. Allowable carbon emissions for threshold stabilisation are similarly highly dependent on the pre-industrial baseline. For stabilisation at 2°C, allowable emissions

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:71780
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group

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