The trouble with negative emissions
Science 14 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6309, pp. 182-183
In December 2015, member states of the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, which aims to hold
the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C and to pursue
efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. The Paris Agreement
requires that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission sources and sinks are
balanced by the second half of this century. Because some nonzero sources
are unavoidable, this leads to the abstract concept of “negative
emissions,” the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through
technical means. The Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) informing
policy-makers assume the large-scale use of negative-emission technologies.
If we rely on these and they are not deployed or are unsuccessful at
removing CO2 from the atmosphere at the levels assumed, society will be
locked into a high-temperature pathway
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