The time for debate over whether anthropogenic climate change is real has passed. No attempt is made here to repeat that evidence, as the scientific community has spoken loudly and authoritatively through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeThe probability of these risks is sufficiently high to warrant action between today and 2100, restricting mean global temperature rise to 2 degrees C or less. 

There remain however some significant policy issues on which experts disagree:
  • How much reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is needed, by whom and by when?
  • How should land be managed so carbon sequestration in vegetation increases?
  • What is the balance needed between resources for mitigation and adaptation?
  • How can energy, climate and economic policies be coordinated so sustainable development proceeds?
  • What are the costs and the benefits of climate policies, and of the Business as Usual course?
The trajectory of reduction required in the developed nations is exemplified by the ambitions of the UK. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC, now rolled into the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy or BEIS) assessed the trajectory to be taken by the UK and EU, and summarizes possible trajectories in the graph above*. Notice that all except one of the pathways leads to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, the target set by the UK Climate Change Act of 2008 and approved by all of the major parties in Parliament. 

Notice also that these trajectories decline smoothly year-on year. It is not enough to reach the 80% reduction target suddenly in 2050, because the climate risks depend not only on where we end up in 2050 but how much carbon dioxide is released each year until then. 

So that is the global climate policy goal, agreed on by all nations who understand the science and take it seriously. That is also the target sought by the CCR in all of the community projects we support. It commits the developed economies to an 80% reduction by 2050, with growth of the emissions in developing economies into the 2030s before they also decline. Past 2050, these targets will reduce the current global emissions by at least half.

*See the DECC 2050 Pathways Analysis.