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CRESCENDO event at COP23: 15 November 2017, 10:00 – 11:15 European Union Pavilion, Bonn, Germany

Using advanced Earth system models to deliver reliable estimates of future global change

Realizing the Paris Agreement: A rapidly closing window of opportunity

Human activity, notably the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), is changing the climate. Presently, only ~50% of emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere causing the climate to warm. The remaining 50% is absorbed by the Earth’s natural carbon sinks, on land and in the ocean. If the efficiency of these sinks decreases in the future in response to climate change, then for a given emission of CO2 a larger fraction of the gas will remain in the atmosphere, causing greater warming than occurs today. For low warming targets the CO2 emission space available to realize these targets is already very small.

Climate–carbon cycle feedbacks may reduce this space even further. To provide guidance on the level of CO2 mitigation required to achieve the Paris targets, realistic estimates of future CO2 emissions must be combined with models capable of simulating the coupled climate-carbon cycle response. We present the latest research in this field, exploring the likelihood of different CO2 emission trajectories realizing the Paris agreement.

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