Why emissions reductions are urgent

by | Aug 28, 2018

Abstract

It is not well understood, either in the general public or the parliaments, how difficult it will be to avoid the worst effects of climate change if we delay emissions reductions. Many think, erroneously, that achieving peak emissions in 2030 will have the same consequences as if they peak now. This is essentially a failure to understand stocks and flows. The impacts of climate change are a consequence of the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (a stock) not emissions per year (a flow). As the atmospheric carbon outflow through photosynthesis and ocean absorption is very slow relative to the inflow, the longer that emissions continue to increase, the longer that
atmospheric CO2 concentrations will increase. Even if we eliminated all emissions today, CO2 concentrations will remain high for millennia (Clark et al. 2016).

Keywords: Climate change, Paris Agreement, peak emissions, net zero emissions target, Climate Tracker

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