How China’s Options Will Determine Global Warming

Abstract

Carbon dioxide emissions, global average temperature, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and surface ocean mixed layer acidity are extrapolated using analyses calibrated against extensive time series data for nine global regions. Extrapolation of historical trends without policy-driven limitations has China responsible for about half of global CO2 emissions by the middle of the twenty-first century. Results are presented for three possible actions taken by China to limit global average temperature increase to levels it considers to be to its advantage: (1) Help develop low-carbon energy technology broadly competitive with unbridled carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels; (2) Entice other countries to join in limiting use of what would otherwise be economically competitive fossil fuels; (3) Apply geo-engineering techniques such as stratospheric sulfur injection to limit global average temperature increase, without a major global reduction in carbon emissions. Taking into account China’s expected influence and approach to limiting the impact of anthropogenic climate change allows for a narrower range of possible outcomes than for a set of scenarios that are not constrained by analysis of likely policy-driven limitations. While China could hold back on implementing geoengineering given a remarkable amount of international cooperation on limiting fossil carbon burning, an outcome where geoengineering is used to delay the perceived need to limit the atmospheric COconcentration may be difficult to avoid.

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This article was published by MDPI and can be found at http://www.mdpi.com/2078-1547/5/1/1