Reliable planning tool for the emissions path to achieving the Paris temperature goal

Researchers at the University of Bern have developed a new method for the successive calculation of the emission reductions which are necessary for achieving temperature targets, such as the 2°C goal. The calculation method is based solely on observation rather than models and scenarios.

The central aim of the Paris climate agreement is clear: Limiting man-made global warming to well below 2°C. This limit requires a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. But how big should the reduction in emissions be within the next five, ten, or fifteen years? Researchers at the University of Bern have now developed a new method to determine the necessary reduction in emissions on a continuous basis. The main idea: Instead of complex climate models and scenarios, which are subject to uncertainties, the observed relationship between warming and emissions is applied, and the reduction path is adapted repeatedly according to the latest measurements of global surface temperatures and CO2 emissions. This new approach was published in the journal Nature Climate Change in December 2022.

The algorithm developed in Bern makes it possible to study impacts such as heat waves or ocean acidification for different temperature goals – such as 1.5°C versus 2°C versus 3°C – on a consistent basis and with state-of-the-art models. Worldwide, 11 research groups have already started to apply the algorithm under the leadership of the University of Bern in order to study such impacts.

Photo: Climate conference 2015 in Paris, where the temperature goal was decided on.