The Paris Agreement, signed in 2016, sets long-term goals for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to below 2°Celsius, and ideally below 1.5°Celsius, above pre-industrial levels. Achieving these goals is critical to preventing the most severe impacts of climate change, such as more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, floods, and coastal flooding.
However, the current scenario logic for achieving the Paris Agreement goals relies heavily on the use of negative emissions technologies (NETs), such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and afforestation. These technologies are still in the experimental stage and have not been proven to deliver the necessary reductions in emissions on the scale required to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.
Therefore, a new scenario logic is needed that focuses on reducing emissions in the near term and achieving long-term goals without relying on unproven negative emissions technologies. This new approach is called a “realistic pathways” approach.
The realistic pathways approach emphasizes the need for immediate and substantial emissions reductions in all sectors, including energy, transportation, industry, and agriculture. This approach acknowledges the difficulty of achieving the Paris Agreement goals without negative emissions technologies, but it also recognizes that these technologies are not guaranteed to be successful.
In addition, the realistic pathways approach emphasizes the importance of social and political factors in achieving the Paris Agreement goals. For example, it recognizes the need to prioritize social equity in the transition to a low-carbon economy and the need for international cooperation and coordination.
Implementing a realistic pathways approach will require significant changes in policy, market incentives, and technological innovation. It will also require a shift in societal attitudes towards the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for immediate action.
In conclusion, the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal is a critical target for limiting the impacts of climate change. However, achieving this goal will require a new scenario logic that prioritizes emissions reductions in the near term and acknowledges the uncertainty of negative emissions technologies. By implementing a realistic pathways approach, we can achieve the Paris Agreement goals while also ensuring social equity and international cooperation.