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New Model Determines Fossil CO2 Emissions Need To Be Reduced by 56% By 2050 and Approach Zero by 2100 to Keep Warming No More Than 2 Degrees

2 August 2010

Evolution of the carbon dioxide emissions calculated by the model (left) and the temporal development of the global mean annual temperature (right). In order to achieve the long-term stabilization of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, fossil carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to around zero by the end of the century. The black lines represent the observed values. (GtC/year = gigatons carbon/year). Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology have developed a coupled climate–carbon cycle model that specifies the maximum volumes of carbon dioxide that humans may emit to remain below the critical threshold for climate warming of 2 °C, based on stabilization at 450 ppm in the 22nd century. The scientists incorporated into their calculations data relating to the carbon cycle, namely the volume of carbon dioxide absorbed and released by the oceans and forests.

According to the model, admissible carbon dioxide emissions will increase from approximately seven billion tonnes of carbon in the year 2000 to a maximum value of around ten billion tonnes in 2015. In order to achieve the long-term stabilization of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, the emissions will then have to be reduced by 56% by the year 2050 and approach zero towards the end of this century.

Although, based on these calculations, global warming would remain under the two-degree threshold until 2100, further warming may be expected in the long term: “It will take centuries for the global climate system to stabilize,” says Erich Roeckner of the Max Planck Institute. A paper on the work was published in the journal Climatic Change.

The scientists used a new method with which they reconstructed historical emission pathways on the basis of already-calculated carbon dioxide concentrations. To do this, Erich Roeckner and his team adopted the methodology proposed by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for simulations being carried out for the future Fifth IPCC Assessment Report: earth system models that incorporate the carbon cycle were used to estimate the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions that are compatible with a prescribed concentration pathway. In this case, the emissions depend solely on the proportion of the anthropogenic carbon in the model that is absorbed by the land surface and the oceans. Repetition of the experiments using different pre-industrial starting dates enabled the scientists to distinguish between anthropogenic climate change and internal climate variability.

The model used for this study is based on a low-resolution spatial grid with a grid spacing of around 400 kilometers, which takes the atmosphere, plus the land surface, the ocean, including sea ice, and the marine and terrestrial carbon cycle into account.

The overall aim of the study is to simulate future changes in the climate and carbon dioxide emissions in a single scenario in which the carbon dioxide equivalent concentrations in the atmosphere are stabilized in the long term at 450 parts per million (ppm), so that global warming increases to a maximum of two degrees above the pre-industrial level.

The authors also noted that their results suggest that the 450 ppm stabilization scenario may not be sufficient to fulfill the European Union climate policy goal of limiting the global temperature increase to a maximum of 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels. The data are currently being evaluated by other European climate centers.


  • Erich Roeckner, Marco A. Giorgetta, Traute Crueger, Monika Esch, Julia Pongratz (2010) Historical and future anthropogenic emission pathways derived from coupled climate-carbon cycle simulations Climatic Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-010-9886-6

  • ENSEMBLES project

August 2, 2010 in Climate Change, Climate models | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack (0)


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More BS. North America already produces no net CO2. Do these professional Cassandras ever recognize or applaud that? Of course not.

Will the world be consuming fossil 100 years for the majority of its Energy, from now? Only the willful, prevaricating, doomsters like these, actually say that. Even if they don't believe it.

These peopel are just like the professional doomsters who complained that New York and all cities would be buried under 8 feet of horse manure by the year 2000 by the futurist doomsters of 1900.

So if global warming is BS why do you care that US is net absorber of CO2 ? which is not true by the way

Drill Baby Drill and bring back all V-8 Hummers.

(Part of the How to Talk to a Global Warming Skeptic guide)

Objection: The United States absorbs more CO2 into its land than it emits into the air. The world should be grateful.

Answer: As often the case, at the heart of this talking point is a grain of truth. But it does not serve the purpose for which it's been enlisted. According to the U.S. Department of Energy land-use changes in the U.S. between 1952 and 1992 have resulted in a net absorption of CO2. But this is only true of natural CO2 -- the natural flux of CO2 into and out of forests and peat bogs and soil, as well as carbon that's been sequestered as lumber and other wood products. These fluxes are actually much larger than anthropogenic emissions, but they go both ways, whereas fossil fuel burning only emits carbon.

This net sink of natural carbon has only been sufficient to offset around 25% of fossil fuel carbon emissions from vehicles, power plants, and the like. In Chapter 7 of this 1996 report, the DoE notes:

For purposes of comparison, this estimated amount of sequestered carbon offset approximately 17 percent of the 1,381 million metric tons of carbon (or 5,068 million metric tons of carbon dioxide) emitted in the United States in 1992 from the burning of fossil fuels.So at least for 1992, that leaves 83% of fossil-fuel emissions in the atmosphere to spread over the globe or be absorbed into the oceans. In the 2003 report, that number has increased to 83.1%:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates annual U.S. carbon sequestration in 2003, based on data generated by the U.S. Department of agriculture (USDA), at 828.0 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e), a decline of approximately 21 percent from the 1,042.1 MMTCO2e sequestered in 1990 (Table 33). Land use, land-use change, and forestry practices offset approximately 16.9 percent of total U.S. anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 and 11.9 percent in 2003. [page 75-76]With per capita emissions five times greater than the global average, that leaves a lot the world does not have to thank the U.S. for.

Well said ai_vin.

Two words China , India. If they do not limit there co2 then any reductions made by the west is for not. “climate change” was has and will always be about transfer of capital and wealth from the first world to the developing world it is a the dream of the Socialists Marxists and Communists to redistribute capital, technologies and wealth from the capitalist west who they believe have lived to high on the hog for too long and they have found a way to control, command, and redistribute control the flow of energy and you control every aspect of an industrial economy I will say this once loud and clear ENERGY EQUALS WEALTH AND STANDARD OF LIVING. A professor of mine always said follow the money. So even if we wreak our economy, slash our standards of living why because 80% of our standard of living is dependent on fossil fuels, there is not any ECONOMIC alternative to them PERIOD. At three to ten times the cost “renewable” can be had in limited intermittent supplies but they will never supply the 100 quadrillion BTU demands of this first world economy. Since China and India have said they are not going to throw there economies down the drain the co2 will still go up in smoke. China is already the number one total emitter in the world. Don’t whine about per capita all that matters is total tons emitted from the planets point of view. The whole percapita game is yet another blatant socialist tactic. For the science side percapita means nothing its total tones period. As a scientist you learn that for any climatic shift which this planet has never over geologic time had a stable climate that humans have 2 choices mitigation and adaptation well since China and India are not playing ball that leaves adaptation which this species is quite adept at. The planet is vastly over populated nature has a way of thinning the herd when any species breed past its caring capacity a J curve simply cannot exist for long in nature it is a natural immutable law that following a J curve a peak and a die off has to happen this is just cold science. The world needs 2-3 billion to be at its caring capacity how we get there is up to us, we can let nature do the killing or we can implement global family planning but one way or the other this planet will even out the numbers by famine, war or resource shortages.

Two words China , India. If they do not limit there[sic] co2 then any reductions made by the west is for not.


Well I just read that China introducing mandatory domestic carbon trading program by 2015.

So where is US?
I will agree with you that the population should be decreased to limit carbon emission. The logic telling us that it should be started from the population that make the most co2 emission per capita to get immediate effect...that is US...That not particularly good news for me, because I living here in US.

Just weight to around 2015 - we will have oil shock
This is what US military saying about that:

Actualy no to control us pop growth you need to control immigration as us pop growth is negative.

As for world pop control dont worry mother nature will handle that rather well soon.

That guy in the funny hat is patently false, even if we went to stone age living and zero carbon emissions China and India have taken our place already the total emissions will still rise regardless its just the rate of rise, look at it this way your trapped in a box with a drain hole in it but you are strapped standing up to the floor its being filled by 3 hoses with 2 flowing at the roughly the same rate but as time proceeds one of the 2 equally flowing hoses is rapidly increasing its flow. The 3rd hose is rapidly increasing its rate of flow to almost to the same flow as the other 2. Now turn off the first hose that is slowing increasing its rate but keep the other 2 hoses flowing, and these 2 remaining hoses are flowing at faster and faster rates you are still going to drown this is simply a 3 variable algebra problem the time to die only increases slightly as the flow from the first hose was stopped but 2 and 3’s flow rates soon surpasses the previous combined flow rates of all 3 in very short time. Unless you cut the flow rate of the remaining 2 to a rate that is less than the drain flow rate you are going to drown. Dead is dead its only a time variable.

Like I said Adaptation is the only choice mitigation is not an option economically or politically. Those who try to force a reduction of lifestyle and take capital & wealth by force in a society that votes is flirting with disaster and there ultimate ruin. This is a middle right country over the last 20 years a steady 40% have identified themselves as conservative, 30% as moderate independent and only 20% as liberal or progressive. This has held true for 20 plus years the moderates are rapidly figuring out the scam that was Nov 08 and Nov 10 is going to be a total wash out as this country swings firmly back to our roots of its core middle right. I am a hunter and avid conservationist I love nature but dont drink the koolaid of statism or the idea that redistribution of wealth and limiting standard of living will make this planet a better place shared misery is not the answer and never will be. Nature picks winners and losers this is how the world works it's not fair but it is the natural law. There is a steep die off coming as we are out of balance with the carrying capacity and nature will restore that balance with our without our consent. The US citizenry is already in negative growth were it not for our illegal immigration that is still swelling our total
numbers. The mass die off will not be in north america it will be were people continue to foolishly breed past the capacity of there lands, Africa, South Asia ect these people need to stop breeding its just that simple.

Its hard for an american to admit, but we arent responsible for everything anymore. China and India, as noted, are where the biggest risks will be. China is taking action "Mainland China has 12 nuclear power reactors in operation, 23 under construction, and more about to start construction soon.
Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050."

We havent built a new nuclear plant in about 20 years, and though Big O has greenlighted a few more, they will get held up in environmental issues until the ones we have are decommissioned.It is expected that we will regulate ourselves out of any changes that may improve things, so get used to being dependant on oil forever.

Er... "That not particularly good news for me, because I living here in US."

Marking down for grammar.

Two words China , India. If they do not limit there co2 then any reductions made by the west is for not. “climate change” was has and will always be about transfer of capital and wealth from the first world to the developing world

Get your facts straight. China and India are coping very well on their own. China installed 13,8 GW of wind power in 2009, more than any other country in the world. And without a dime of western money. Hmmm why would those Marxists do that? Think think think....

I will say this once loud and clear ENERGY EQUALS WEALTH AND STANDARD OF LIVING.


So even if we wreak our economy, slash our standards of living...


Like I said Adaptation is the only choice mitigation is not an option economically or politically

You can only say that if you know the cost of each option. Please produce cost estimates for each option, with evidence, or admit this is all blahblah.

Nature picks winners and losers this is how the world works it's not fair but it is the natural law.

How very true. Guess what nature's pick will be if we continue to dogmatically reject her laws.


And additionally, whether or not the US or any other country in the world is a net source or sink of CO2 has nothing to do with the research which is based on global CO2 emissions.

But you know Stan, even if he doesn't have anything to say, he still wants to make noise so we all know he's still there.

Yesterdays's winners are not necessarily today's winners.
Today's winners are not necessarily tomorrow's winners.

Past winners have often destroyed themselves with self interest lobbies, greed and corruption.

History repeats itself and the above will happen again.

An excess of participation, pressure groups self interest, misguided religious activists, manufactured false news, powerful financial groups greed and quest for quick profits, political gymnastics to get re-elected, lack of political will, lack of individual will, etc are making our democracies harder to govern effectively. Essential laws and regulations are delayed, blocked or watered down. Corrections are not made in a timely manner. Too few benefit from the current turmoil and the majority is loosing ground every day. The nation has been chasing its tail for too long and may be on the downward path, as is the case with traditional fossil fuels. Are we overdue for a few necessary amendments to fix things up?

Note: Warmer weather has favored the multiplication of miniature corn grey worms in many American States and Canadian Provinces in the last few months. If unchecked, this may reduce corn crop considerably in a very short time frame. What will be the effect on corn ethanol and corn price? Will grey worms move to other grains next year or next month?


Seriously, though. Haven't you all noticed the sudden wealth of new stories concerning giant sink holes opening up around the globe, the rapidly increasing melting of the polar ice caps, and NOW we're discovering new species of frogs, lizards, and locusts popping up all over the place?
I'm just sayin'.....

Coming climate changes will bring about positive and negative changes (depending in which area you live in). We will have to learn to cope with it, as much as we can or have the resources and capacity to do so.

People living in very low lands may not like it. Those living close to already hot dry lands may not like it either.

For us, 2010 with its +3.5C above last 30 years average is rather pleasant. The next +3.5C change may not be so welcomed but it may be somewhat manageable. Higher capacity, ultra high efficiency heat pumps will replace most current oil/NG furnaces and low efficiency A/C units. The net effect on fresh water availability is not yet known. Many nearby towns were running short of fresh water last week and rationing was used. Water level was at the lowest level since 1955. Another +3.5C would certainly have noticeable effect on the Great Lakes and St-Lawrence river water level. Navigation is already affected. Many ships had to reduce load to go through the Seaway. Ship channels may have to be deepen at a cost of many $$B. The list of possible effects could go on for pages.

Harvey - Nothing to worry about. I'm sure you've read the other article about Peak Coal and how we're supposed to reach that next year. Yup, Peak Coal by 2011.
And Peak Cheap Oil by 2020.
Which puts the strain on Natural Gas yields. So all those studies saying the US has enough to last 200 years will see those numbers drop to year, oh, 2020 or 2025.
So all the concern about dropping fresh water levels, flood ravaged low-lying areas and drought ravaged high land areas is all for naught.
Because, as I've stated before (*ahem*)...

Harvey, something I've heard: Due to a 10-year drought the water level in Lake Mead has dropped about 40 metres. That requires a pipeline to be installed at a lower level in the reservoir to ensure enough water can be drawn for current demand - a fix that will cost about the same in current dollars as the original dam cost to build in inflation-adjusted dollars: US $700 million.

Some project that China is fast running out of easily-minable coal, so emissions there may have a somewhat lower cap than BAU projections.

China's oil production is also sliding. This means China is ripe for the same advance as the US: coal gasification, syngas separation, and combustion of CO with pure O2 in supercritical CO2 turbines. This ought to yield very high thermal efficiency (I suspect on the order of 70%) plus a sequestration-ready stream of CO2 suitable for enhanced oil recovery.

Higher efficiency, very low emissions, oil recovery.

EP: Per capita GHG emissions in China and India is still very low (1/5 to 1/8) compared to USA and Canada. Due to the arrival of higher efficiency power plants, electrified vehicles, e-trains, more nuclear plants, more wind and solar power plants etc; their per capita GHG may never reach our high level.

How many 70% efficient coal (or NG) power plants do we have in operation?

Do we plan to build them soon?

I believed that our coal power plants were about 40% to 45% efficient (average for the 436 plants). Many large ship diesel are more efficient than that.

China and India will run out of fuel before they reach historic US levels of CO2 emissions, but that doesn't make the climate effects easier. However, China (1.3 billion) is already past 1/4 of US (300 million) emissions and still going full speed.

The average US coal plant is 33% efficient.

We don't have anything that's 70% efficient. I think only the supercritical CO2 part of a sequestering IGCC plant could hit that (the rest would be 45-60% before the overhead of the oxygen plant). The advantage of developing such a thing is that we could sell lots of them, to Europe as well as everywhere else.

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