MIT Energy Initiative

Limiting global warming

More aggressive measures are needed

Credit: iStock

Even if we’re lucky and the Earth is not very responsive to GHG forcing, by 2050 we’re within a tenth of a degree of the 2°C target… We’re obviously not anywhere close to meeting it, and given the risks involved, it’s prudent to pursue more aggressive policies to stabilize climate.

John Reilly, Co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

An MIT analysis of the Paris climate agreement finds that—even if all the participating nations meet their pledges—global warming will exceed the 2°C maximum targeted for 2100 as early as 2050. To determine what else is needed, researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change calculated a series of global energy technology mixes that would meet future demand while generating greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the 2°C target. Depending on the assumed costs plus a uniform global carbon price, different technologies dominate, but all the successful combinations are markedly different from today’s global energy system. The researchers conclude that substantial R&D investment is needed to lower the cost of key energy technologies and help transform the global energy system—a shift that must be well under way within the next decade or so if the world is to meet its targets.

This research was funded in part by MITEI.

Research Team