New Study Shows Global Temperature Responds Slowly to Emissions Cuts


Although large emissions cuts are urgently needed if we are to achieve the global climate goals, it may take decades before we can measure the effect of the reductions on global temperature evolution, a new study shows.

In the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on 7 July 2020, CICERO researchers Bjørn H. Samset, Jan S. Fuglestvedt and Marianne T. Lund have analysed how global warming will evolve under different assumptions on future emissions reductions.

Their results show that if we only use the Earth’s surface temperature to measure whether emissions cuts lead to a slow-down in global warming, we may need to wait for decades before we can establish with certainty the temperature effect of the reduced emissions.

This is partly because the Earth’s climate responds slowly to changes in emissions, and partly because of the substantial natural variability in annual mean temperatures.

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