By 2100, the world will have to use every available means to cut down emissions for survival - just to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to less than 40 per cent higher of what they are today, researchers say.
The options include using more nuclear and renewable energy, choosing electricity over fossil fuels, minimising emissions through carbon capture technologies, even using forests to store carbon.
Five years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asked the climate science community to provide scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and land use change to guide computer models that simulate potential changes to Earth’s climate.
Researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) introduced the work, called the RCP 4.5 scenario, one of four scenarios that scientists will use worldwide to study how climate might respond to different increases of greenhouse gases.
“Without any action, the emissions, and the heat trapped in the atmosphere, would be much higher, leading to more severe climate change,” said Allison Thomson, a scientist at JGCRI, reports the journal Climatic Change.
JGCRI is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) in Washington and the University of Maryland, according to JGCRI statement.
The team used the PNNL Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) to generate the scenario. Unlike similar models, it includes carbon stored in forests, causing forest acreage to increase, including bio-fuels generated from crops and crop waste.
“This scenario and the other three produced in this project will provide a common thread for climate change research across many different science communities,” Thomson added.