A new scenario logic for the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal

Joeri Rogelj*, Daniel Huppmann, Volker Krey, Keywan Riahi, Leon Clarke, Matthew Gidden, Zebedee Nicholls, Malte Meinshausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To understand how global warming can be kept well below 2 degrees Celsius and even 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate policy uses scenarios that describe how society could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. However, current scenarios have a key weakness: they typically focus on reaching specific climate goals in 2100. This choice may encourage risky pathways that delay action, reach higher-than-acceptable mid-century warming, and rely on net removal of carbon dioxide thereafter to undo their initial shortfall in reductions of emissions. Here we draw on insights from physical science to propose a scenario framework that focuses on capping global warming at a specific maximum level with either temperature stabilization or reversal thereafter. The ambition of climate action until carbon neutrality determines peak warming, and can be followed by a variety of long-term states with different sustainability implications. The approach proposed here closely mirrors the intentions of the United Nations Paris Agreement, and makes questions of intergenerational equity into explicit design choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
Issue number7774
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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