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#SSECCM-IE: Concise paper accepted for the CLIMATE2020 online conference

posted 15 Nov 2019, 05:16 by Paul Price   [ updated 27 Mar 2020, 06:25 by ECRN ECRN ]
The 7th Online Climate Change Conference CLIMATE2020 conference is hosted by the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. It will take place from 23th 2020 to 30th March 2020 exclusively on the internet "in a climate-friendly manner" as the organisers put it; in other words we can participate and learn from others remotely without travel time or emissions, which is a very good idea. This year, the conference focus is on Integrating Mitigation & Adaptation Initiatives for a Better Management of Climate Change and its ImpactsOur abstract and "concise paper" has been accepted for the conference strand on Intelligent Climate Policy & Governance – how to integrate the measures for mitigation and adaptation to the impacts of climate change into national policy, strategies and planning processes

In our concise paper, entitled Society-wide scenarios for effective integration of Paris-aligned climate mitigation and adaptation in national and regional policy, we summarise earlier results from the IE-NETS project, on estimating Paris Agreement -aligned national CO2-only quotas, and we additionally outline findings from the SSECCM-IE project, pointing to critical issues in deep decarbonisation scenarios, which also include non-CO2 greenhouse gases (nitrous oxide and methane) from agriculture and waste that are critical GHGs and sectors in Ireland's low carbon transition. Both projects have been funded by the Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency.

From IE-NETS, as shown in the Figure below, we show how Ireland’s prudent, minimally equitable, remaining national CO2-only quota of 391 MtCO2 is steadily depleted from 2015 onward on different pathways: avoiding overshoot within this prudent, minimally equitable quota; or in accord with current policy aspirations and projections, prior the recent Climate Action Plan. We find that the mitigation trajectories implied by the new plan, insofar as they can be inferred, still suggest a very early exhaustion of the assessed prudent, fair share (Paris-aligned) CO2 quota by 2024, and consequent emergence of significant CO2 debt, reaching net zero annual emissions in 2050 but with a cumulative CO2 overshoot, relative to the Paris quota, of about 580 MtCO2. For full discussion see our peer-reviewed article (linked from blogposts here and here).

In our SSECCM literature review and from preliminary scoping of warming-equivalent modelling, comparing alternative mitigation scenarios, we suggest that capping and steadily declining total system nitrogen fertiliser input would likely reduce nitrous oxide and ruminant methane emissions from nitrogen-boosted grass digestion, thereby enabling a very significant reduction in total Irish global warming commitment due to methane. Full discussion of SSECCM findings and recommendations will be in the final research report to be published after the research concludes in Spring 2020.

Both globally and especially in Ireland (given high agricultural emissions), such methane "cooling" could be essential to enable feasible energy and land use CO2 reduction rates. This combined strategy might still enable achievement of increasingly daunting Paris alignment in net forcing terms, provided substantial and sustained reductions in fossil fuel CO2 and and land use CO2 and N2O, toward net zero annual emissions in these GHGs as soon as possible, were also being achieved in parallel with steady cuts in methane emissions

Nonetheless, as such radical, sustained efforts are not yet being achieved – in Ireland agricultural methane emissions have trended upward at 2% per year since 2011, seriously increasing near-term (time-lagged) climate forcing – we conclude that current approaches to decarbonisation are grossly inadequate. Effective (Paris-aligned) mitigation scenarios need to combine achievement of radical near-term reductions in fossil fuel use without delay, rapid ending of land carbon losses (peat extraction, excess forest harvest and draining organic soils), and steady reductions in nitrogen fertiliser use to ensure reductions in nitrous oxide and methane emissions.

The key message from these analyses is that delaying sufficient climate action is continuing to escalate risks of catastrophic mitigation and adaptation policy failure.

Depletion of Ireland’s prudent, minimally equitable, remaining national CO2 quota of 391 MtCO2 from 2015

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

DISCLAIMER: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the material contained in this blogpost, complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the authors accept any responsibility whatsoever for loss or damage occasioned or claimed to have been occasioned, in part or in full, as a consequence of any person acting or refraining from acting, as a result of a matter contained in this blogpost.