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Risk implications of long-term global climate goals: overall conclusions of the ICA-RUS project

Emori, Seita, Takahashi, Kiyoshi, Yamagata, Yoshiki, Kanae, Shinjiro, Mori, Shunsuke, Fujigaki, Yuko
Sustainability science 2018 v.13 no.2 pp. 279-289
climate, decision making, environmental engineering, environmental policy, ethics, experts, global warming, greenhouse gases, models, risk, sustainability science and engineering, temperature, uncertainty
We have assessed the risks associated with setting 1.5, 2.0, or 2.5 °C temperature goals and ways to manage them in a systematic manner and discussed their implications. The results suggest that, given the uncertainties in climate sensitivity, “net zero emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” is a more actionable goal for society than the 2 or 1.5 °C temperature goals themselves. If the climate sensitivity is proven to be relatively high and the temperature goals are not met even when the net zero emission goal is achieved, the options left are: (A) accepting/adapting to a warmer world, (B) boosting mitigation, and (C) climate geoengineering, or any combination of these. This decision should be made based on a deeper discussion of risks associated with each option. We also suggest the need to consider a wider range of policies: not only climate policies, but also broader “sustainability policies”, and to envisage more innovative solutions than what integrated assessment models can currently illustrate. Finally, based on a consideration of social aspects of risk decisions, we recommend the establishment of a panel of “intermediate layer” experts, who support decision-making by citizens as well as social and ethical thinking by policy makers.