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An emission pathway classification reflecting the Paris Agreement climate objectives
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  • Carl-Friedrich Schleussner,
  • Gaurav Ganti,
  • Joeri Rogelj,
  • Matthew Gidden
Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
Climate Analytics, Climate Analytics

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Gaurav Ganti
Climate Analytics
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Joeri Rogelj
Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment and Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
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Matthew Gidden
Climate Analytics,International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
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Since its adoption, the Paris Agreement sets and defines the global climate ambition. The overall scope of this ambition is expressed in its long-term temperature goal in Article 2 as well as the ‘net zero’ mitigation goal in Article 4. To provide guidance to climate policy, the scientific community has explored the characteristics of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction pathways that can meet the Paris Agreement goals. However, when categorizing and presenting such pathways including in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the focus has been put on the temperature outcome and not on the emission reduction criteria set out in Article 4.1. Here we propose a pathway classification approach that aims to comprehensively reflect all climate criteria set out in the Paris Agreement. We show how such an approach allows for an internally consistent interpretation of the Paris Agreement in terms of emission reduction pathways. For pathways that simultaneously are very likely to hold warming to below 2°C, pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C and achieve the provisions outlined in Article 4.1, we report 2030 global Kyoto-GHG emissions of between 20-26 Gt CO2eq (interquartile range), net zero CO2 emissions around 2050 and net zero GHG emissions around 2060. We further illustrate how prevalent pathway classifications focusing, for example, on the temperature outcome in 2100 result in additional criteria being applied that are not rooted in the Paris Agreement. We outline the consequences of such approaches including for the deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in such pathways. We find that across pathways classified as ‘no or low overshoot’ pathways in previous IPCC reports, such non-Paris related, additional criteria for end-of-century outcomes may lead to about 20% higher CDR deployment compared to purely achieving the Paris Agreement objectives in mitigation pathways.