Ensuring that offsets and other internationally transferred mitigation outcomes contribute effectively to limiting global warming
Environmental Research Letters IOP Publishing 16:7 (2021) 74009
Abstract:Ensuring the environmental integrity of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes, whether through offset arrangements, a market mechanism or non-market approaches, is a priority for the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Any conventional transferred mitigation outcome, such as an offset agreement, that involves exchanging greenhouse gases with different lifetimes can increase global warming on some timescales. We show that a simple 'do no harm' principle regarding the choice of metrics to use in such transactions can be used to guard against this, noting that it may also be applicable in other contexts such as voluntary and compliance carbon markets. We also show that both approximate and exact 'warming equivalent' exchanges are possible, but present challenges of implementation in any conventional market. Warming-equivalent emissions may, however, be useful in formulating warming budgets in a two-basket approach to mitigation and in reporting contributions to warming in the context of the global stocktake.
Comment on 'Unintentional unfairness when applying new greenhouse gas emissions metrics at country level'
ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS 16:6 (2021) ARTN 068001
FaIRv2.0.0: a generalized impulse response model for climate uncertainty and future scenario exploration
Geoscientific Model Development Copernicus GmbH 14:5 (2021) 3007-3036
Abstract:Here we present an update to the FaIR model for use in probabilistic future climate and scenario exploration, integrated assessment, policy analysis, and education. In this update we have focussed on identifying a minimum level of structural complexity in the model. The result is a set of six equations, five of which correspond to the standard impulse response model used for greenhouse gas (GHG) metric calculations in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, plus one additional physically motivated equation to represent state-dependent feedbacks on the response timescales of each greenhouse gas cycle. This additional equation is necessary to reproduce non-linearities in the carbon cycle apparent in both Earth system models and observations. These six equations are transparent and sufficiently simple that the model is able to be ported into standard tabular data analysis packages, such as Excel, increasing the potential user base considerably. However, we demonstrate that the equations are flexible enough to be tuned to emulate the behaviour of several key processes within more complex models from CMIP6. The model is exceptionally quick to run, making it ideal for integrating large probabilistic ensembles. We apply a constraint based on the current estimates of the global warming trend to a million-member ensemble, using the constrained ensemble to make scenario-dependent projections and infer ranges for properties of the climate system. Through these analyses, we reaffirm that simple climate models (unlike more complex models) are not themselves intrinsically biased “hot” or “cold”: it is the choice of parameters and how those are selected that determines the model response, something that appears to have been misunderstood in the past. This updated FaIR model is able to reproduce the global climate system response to GHG and aerosol emissions with sufficient accuracy to be useful in a wide range of applications and therefore could be used as a lowest-common-denominator model to provide consistency in different contexts. The fact that FaIR can be written down in just six equations greatly aids transparency in such contexts.
Lifetime climate impacts of diet transitions: a novel climate change accounting perspective
Sustainability MDPI 13:10 (2021) 5568
Abstract:Dietary transitions, such as eliminating meat consumption, have been proposed as one way to reduce the climate impact of the global and regional food systems. However, it should be ensured that replacement diets are, indeed, nutritious and that climate benefits are accurately accounted for. This study uses New Zealand food consumption as a case study for exploring the cumulative climate impact of adopting the national dietary guidelines and the substitution of meat from hypothetical diets. The new GWP* metric is used as it was designed to better reflect the climate impacts of the release of methane than the de facto standard 100-year Global Warming Potential metric (GWP100). A transition at age 25 to the hypothetical dietary guideline diet reduces cumulative warming associated with diet by 7 to 9% at the 100th year compared with consuming the average New Zealand diet. The reduction in diet-related cumulative warming from the transition to a hypothetical meat-substituted diet varied between 12% and 15%. This is equivalent to reducing an average individual’s lifetime warming contribution by 2 to 4%. General improvements are achieved for nutrient intakes by adopting the dietary guidelines compared with the average New Zealand diet; however, the substitution of meat items results in characteristic nutrient differences, and these differences must be considered alongside changes in emission profiles.
Learning in lockdown: Using the COVID-19 crisis to teach children about food and climate change.
Nutrition bulletin (2021)