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Enhancing global climate policy ambition towards a 1.5 °C stabilization: a short-term multi-model assessment

Abstract

The Paris Agreement is a milestone in international climate policy as it establishes a global mitigation framework towards 2030 and sets the ground for a potential 1.5 °C climate stabilization. To provide useful insights for the 2018 UNFCCC Talanoa facilitative dialogue, we use eight state-of-the-art climate-energy-economy models to assess the effectiveness of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in meeting high probability 1.5 and 2 °C stabilization goals. We estimate that the implementation of conditional INDCs in 2030 leaves an emissions gap from least cost 2 °C and 1.5 °C pathways for year 2030 equal to 15.6 (9.0–20.3) and 24.6 (18.5–29.0) GtCO2eq respectively. The immediate transition to a more efficient and low-carbon energy system is key to achieving the Paris goals. The decarbonization of the power supply sector delivers half of total CO2 emission reductions in all scenarios, primarily through high penetration of renewables and energy efficiency improvements. In combination with an increased electrification of final energy demand, low-carbon power supply is the main short-term abatement option. We find that the global macroeconomic cost of mitigation efforts does not reduce the 2020–2030 annual GDP growth rates in any model more than 0.1 percentage points in the INDC or 0.3 and 0.5 in the 2 °C and 1.5 °C scenarios respectively even without accounting for potential co-benefits and avoided climate damages. Accordingly, the median GDP reductions across all models in 2030 are 0.4%, 1.2% and 3.3% of reference GDP for each respective scenario. Costs go up with increasing mitigation efforts but a fragmented action, as implied by the INDCs, results in higher costs per unit of abated emissions. On a regional level, the cost distribution is different across scenarios while fossil fuel exporters see the highest GDP reductions in all INDC, 2 °C and 1.5 °C scenarios.

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