Climate Change: Limiting Future Warming to 1.5°C Not Impossible It has been said that our lofty goal of preventing the world from warming an additional 2 degrees Celsius is utterly inadequate. After all, research has already shown that means to keep to this two-degree limit are slipping away. And yet, despite all the speculation, one new study says that it is even possible to limit future warming to a more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees C by 2100.
That's at least from a purely technological standpoint, according to researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and others. The new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, examines scenarios for the energy, economy, and environment that are consistent with limiting climate change to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, and compares them to scenarios for limiting climate change to 2 C.
"Actions for returning global warming to below 1.5°C by 2100 are in many ways similar to those limiting warming to below 2°C," IIASA researcher Joeri Rogelj, one of the lead authors, said in a news release. "However, the more ambitious 1.5°C goal leaves no space to further delay global mitigation action and emission reductions need to scale up swiftly in the next decades."
While this is relatively good news, that's not to say that the road ahead won't be a long, arduous one. The authors point out that the economic, political, and technological requirements to meet even the 2 C target are substantial.
So what exactly are the key elements needed to make this brighter future a reality?
First off, the study says that tight constraints on future carbon emissions are a top priority, along with faster improvements in energy efficiency.
"In 1.5°C scenarios, the remaining carbon budget for the 21st century is reduced to almost half compared to 2°C scenarios," explained PIK researcher Gunnar Luderer, who co-led the study. "As a consequence, deeper emissions cuts are required from all sectors, and global carbon neutrality would need to be reached 10-20 years earlier than projected for 2°C scenarios."