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Increased importance of methane reduction for a 1.5 degree target

  • Author(s): Collins, William J
  • Webber, Christopher P
  • Cox, Peter M
  • Huntingford, Chris
  • Lowe, Jason
  • Sitch, Stephen
  • Chadburn, Sarah E
  • Comyn-Platt, Edward
  • Harper, Anna B
  • Hayman, Garry
  • Powell, Tom
  • et al.

Published Web Location

http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aab89c
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Abstract

© 2018 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. To understand the importance of methane on the levels of carbon emission reductions required to achieve temperature goals, a processed-based approach is necessary rather than reliance on the transient climate response to emissions. We show that plausible levels of methane (CH4) mitigation can make a substantial difference to the feasibility of achieving the Paris climate targets through increasing the allowable carbon emissions. This benefit is enhanced by the indirect effects of CH4 on ozone (O3). Here the differing effects of CH4 and CO2 on land carbon storage, including the effects of surface O3, lead to an additional increase in the allowable carbon emissions with CH4 mitigation. We find a simple robust relationship between the change in the 2100 CH4 concentration and the extra allowable cumulative carbon emissions between now and 2100 (0.27 ± 0.05 GtC per ppb CH4). This relationship is independent of modelled climate sensitivity and precise temperature target, although later mitigation of CH4 reduces its value and thus methane reduction effectiveness. Up to 12% of this increase in allowable emissions is due to the effect of surface ozone. We conclude early mitigation of CH4 emissions would significantly increase the feasibility of stabilising global warming below 1.5 °C, alongside having co-benefits for human and ecosystem health.

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