Feasibility of meeting 2°C

Achieving the below 2°C objective

Achieving the 2°C goal is still within reach but using historical transitions as a guide and considering the feasibility of scaled-up emissions reduction methods shows us there will be significant challenges, such as deploying technologies at sustained rates surpassing historic change.

Sustaining rapid decarbonisation after 2030 will require a focus on innovation and deployment of a number of key low-carbon technologies and measures including energy efficiency, wind, solar, CCS, low-carbon heating and transport technologies.2

Example findings by technology:

  • The economy as a whole would need to be three to eight times more energy efficient in terms of energy use per unit economic output by 2100 compared to 2010.3
  • The fossil fuel share of total electricity generation, currently greater than 60%, would need to reduce to around 15% or less by 2100, according to energy/climate models. Of the remaining fossil fuel based power generation, all would need to be coupled with CCS by 2100.
  • Meeting the 2°C target implies early shut down of [up to 1,400] 4 coal fired power stations before the end of their envisaged lifetime.
  • Meeting the 2°C target implies transport would need to shift away from dependence on oil to a mix of biofuels, hydrogen and electricity.
  • Realisation of mitigation of other greenhouse gases would lead to overall emissions reductions becoming easier and cheaper.5

 

Why do we need action now?

The window of opportunity to achieve 2°C is narrowing, and the greater the delay before global coordinated mitigation begins, the more costly, more technically challenging and less feasible overall achievement of the 2°C goal becomes, with a greater reliance on CO2 draw-down and adaptation measures, each with their own socio-economic, political and financial costs.6

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Footnotes

[1] C3: What do historical rates and patterns of energy system change tell us about feasibility of climate mitigation? 
[2] C2a: What does a 2C target imply for changes in key technologies and overall mitigation costs?; C4: What behavioural barriers could hinder the transition to low carbon energy?
[3] Across three models: TIAM, MESSAGE and WITCH
[4] Across three models: TIAM, MESSAGE and WITCH
[5] C2b: What contribution can mitigation of non-CO2 gases make towards achieving temperature targets? [6] D1a, D1b, D2a: What constraints are there to rapid scale up of BECCS?