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Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth s climate. Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas produced in the largest quantities, accounting for more than half of the current impact on Earth s climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe. Emissions reduction decisions made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just during the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia. Climate Stabilization Targets provides a scientific evaluation of the implications of various climate stabilisation targets. Policy decisions can be informed by recent advances in climate science that quantify the relationships between increases in carbon dioxide and global warming, related climate changes, and future impacts, such as changes in stream flow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise.
One way to inform these choices is to consider the projected climate changes and impacts that would occur if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were stabilised at a particular concentration level. The book quantifies the outcomes of different stabilisation targets for greenhouse gas concentrations using analyses and information drawn from the scientific literature. Although it does not recommend or justify any particular stabilisation target, it does provide important scientific insights about the relationships among emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations, temperatures, and impacts. Climate Stabilization Targets is unique in its methodology in that it assesses climate stabilisation goals by using the global mean temperature change as the primary metric, instead of focusing on atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.