Climatic Change

, Volume 99, Issue 1–2, pp 313–320 | Cite as

Postponing emission reductions from 2020 to 2030 increases climate risks and long-term costs

A letter
  • Michel G. J. den Elzen
  • Detlef P. van Vuuren
  • Jasper van Vliet


Substantially postponing the emission reductions, compared to the ranges indicated in IPCC’s recent assessment for 2020 as required for meeting the longterm 2°C target, increases the risk of exceeding this target. The costs of a delay strategy are lower in the short term, but leads to higher costs in the longer term. The analysis shows if the emission reductions are postponed to 2030 it is not likely that higher emissions from the earlier years can be fully compensated in future decades in a so-called ‘delayed action scenario’. A full compensation would require emission reduction rates in the coming decades that are much higher than those found in the scenario literature. Without compensation, the risk of exceeding the global temperature rise target of 2°C will increase. This confirms that it is not only the reduction commitments for 2050 that determine the risk of exceeding the 2°C target, but also the path between now and 2050. To meet this 2°C target, more ambitious 2020 reduction targets are needed for the developed and developing countries than those that have been pledged so far.


Emission Reduction Abatement Cost Cumulative Emission Full Compensation Dangerous Climate Change 
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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel G. J. den Elzen
    • 1
  • Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • 1
  • Jasper van Vliet
    • 1
  1. 1.Netherlands Environmental Assessment AgencyBilthovenThe Netherlands

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