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Reducing the Risks of Climate Overshoot

The likelihood of global warming exceeding the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement is alarmingly high and continues to rise. Policymakers should urgently address the escalating risks of climate change, particularly those impacting vulnerable countries, by considering the full spectrum of approaches. Emissions reductions must be prioritized and accelerated. This requires an ambitious and orderly phasing out of fossil fuels, as well as a clear differentiation between the pace of phase-out in industrialized and the least industrialized countries. Efforts to increase protection from impacts of a disrupted climate (“adaptation”) should be expanded, along with the international financing to support them, as well as new mechanisms to plan, measure and anticipate at national level and across critical sectors such as agriculture. Carbon dioxide removal techniques should be developed and deployed to help achieve net-zero – and, ultimately, net-negative – emissions, balancing the benefits of biological and industrial methods, and enabling them through smart policies and financing. Countries should adopt a moratorium on the deployment of solar radiation modification and large-scale outdoor experiments that would carry risk of significant transboundary harm, while expanding research, and pursuing international governance dialogues.


The Carbon Cycle

Greenhouse gas emissions derive primarily from burning fossil fuels in the power, industrial, buildings, and transport sectors, as well as from agriculture and land use. Power plants and industrial facilities represent capital-intensive, long-term investments, so building them without emissions control technologies – which are often expensive – creates decades-long commitments to emissions.

Key Messages 
Carbon Cycle

Credit: Climate Overshoot Commission

pg.51 Booklet 3

  • Limiting warming to 1.5°C remains an essential goal, but the risks of overshoot are high and rising.

  • Governments, the private sector and civil society need to take action to reduce the probability, magnitude, and duration of any overshoot. 

  • Cutting emissions remains the priority. Because the use of fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change, fossil fuels should be phased out, through national actions coordinated internationally.

  • Adaptation is necessary to cope with impacts. New tools and mechanisms should be created, such as country-level partnerships for adaptation and robust metrics for assessing adaptation strategies.

  • Carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere will be needed. Governance and government support is needed to define and help finance the roll-out of high-integrity carbon removal methods.

  • Solar radiation modification should be researched, and its governance discussed. Countries should adopt a moratorium on the deployment of solar radiation modification and large-scale outdoor experiments that would carry risk of significant transboundary harm.

  • Climate finance must be increased to prevent or limit climate overshoot. Financing needs are greatest for lower-income countries.

Report Booklets
Booklet 1

Reducing Risks of Climate Ovrshoot

1. Foreword
2. Executive Summary
3. About the Commission

Booklet 2

Climate Overshoot

1. Introduction
2. The Origins of Climate Overshoot
3. Expected Impacts from Climate Overshoot

Booklet 3

Responses to Possible Climate Overshoot

1. Emissions Reductions
2. Adaptation

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Responses to Possible Climate Overshoot

3. Carbon Dioxide Removal
4. Solar Radiation Modification

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Climate Finance

5. Synthesis and Integration

Brief details:

With this report, the Commission offers an integrated strategy for reducing the probability of breaching the Paris Agreement’s goals, and limiting and managing the risks brought about by an overshoot should it take place.

Adaptation can take many forms, including:

Structural interventions such as building sea walls or irrigation systems,

Institutional reforms such as strengthening disaster risk management or social protection systems,

Behavioural and technological changes such as adopting droughtresistant crops or relocating to safer areas,

Conserving certain natural ecosystems.

Adaptation Methods
Adaptation Measures:

Credit: Climate Overshoot Commission

pg.60 Booklet 4

Cutting emissions, Adapting to impacts, Removing carbon from the atmosphere, and Exploring SRM – a CARE agenda – holds the promise of reducing overshoot risks while furthering goals of justice, equity, and sustainability.

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Boosting greenhouse gas emissions reductions

Greatly expanded and accelerated adaptation measures to reduce climate vulnerability

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Removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Possibly cooling the planet by reflecting incoming sunlight.

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Scaling up climate finance especially for developing countries

Global Warming Projections through 2100
Global warming projections through 2100

Expected global warming by 2100 has fallen from a projected 3°C to 4°C increase – an apocalyptic scenario that was still plausible a few years ago – to a rise of 2°C to 3°C.10

But that is still far too high. The world needs more – and quicker – progress. The unfortunate fact is that the chance of overshoot is high and increasing.

Credit: Climate Overshoot Commission

pg. 27 Booklet 2

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