Why residual emissions matter right now

Buck, Holly Jean and Carton, Wim and Friis Lund, Jens and Markusson, Nils (2022) Why residual emissions matter right now. Nature Climate Change. ISSN 1758-678X (In Press)

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Net-zero targets imply that continuing residual emissions will be balanced by carbon dioxide removal. However, residual emissions are typically not well defined, conceptually or quantitatively. We analyzed governments’ long-term strategies submitted to the UNFCCC to explore projections of residual emissions, including amounts and sectors. We found significant levels of residual emissions at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, on average 18% of current emissions. The majority of strategies were imprecise about which sectors residual emissions would originate from, and few offered specific projections of how residual emissions could be balanced by carbon removal. Our findings indicate the need for a consistent definition of residual emissions, as well as processes that standardize and compare expectations about residual emissions across countries. This is necessary for two reasons: to avoid projections of excessive residuals and correspondent unsustainable or unfeasible carbon removal levels, and to send clearer signals about the temporality of fossil fuel use.

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Journal Article
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Nature Climate Change
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Deposited On:
23 Jan 2023 15:50
In Press
Last Modified:
23 Jan 2023 15:50