Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges and its global climatic impacts—a snapshot of dissonant ambitions

6th December 2011

Joeri Rogelj, Claudine Chen, Julia Nabel, Kirsten Macey, William Hare, Michiel Schaeffer, Kathleen Markmann, Niklas Höhne, Katrine Krogh Andersen and Malte Meinshausen

This analysis of the Copenhagen Accord evaluates emission reduction pledges by individual countries against the Accord's climate-related objectives. Probabilistic estimates of the climatic consequences for a set of resulting multi-gas scenarios over the 21st century are calculated with a reduced complexity climate model, yielding global temperature increase and atmospheric CO2 and CO2-equivalent concentrations. Provisions for banked surplus emission allowances and credits from land use, land-use change and forestry are assessed and are shown to have the potential to lead to significant deterioration of the ambition levels implied by the pledges in 2020. This analysis demonstrates that the Copenhagen Accord and the pledges made under it represent a set of dissonant ambitions. The ambition level of the current pledges for 2020 and the lack of commonly agreed goals for 2050 place in peril the Accord's own ambition: to limit global warming to below 2 °C, and even more so for 1.5 °C, which is referenced in the Accord in association with potentially strengthening the long-term temperature goal in 2015. Due to the limited level of ambition by 2020, the ability to limit emissions afterwards to pathways consistent with either the 2 or 1.5 °C goal is likely to become less feasible

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