Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that the impacts of climate change are already “widespread and consequential.” Yet the effects we may see in the future still largely depend on the actions countries take to reduce their emissions today. Here, WRI provides four possible global emissions outcomes—and its potential implications on communities, the economy, and the environment.
This infographic, based on IPCC data, depicts the likely consequences of various emissions pathways ranging from a low-carbon future to a fossil fuel-intensive one. Alongside each pathway, known as a “Representation Concentration Pathway,” we show what the future might hold in terms of climate impacts—ranging from temperature increases to precipitation changes to ecosystem degradation.
RCP 8.5: Riahi, K., and Nakicenovic, N. (eds): 2007, Greenhouse Gases - Integrated Assessment, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Special Issue, 74(7), September 2007, 234 pp. (ISSN 0040-1625)
RCP 6.0: Fujino, J., R. Nair, M. Kainuma, T. Masui, Y. Matsuoka, 2006. Multi-gas mitigation analysis on stabilization scenarios using AIM global model. Multigas Mitigation and Climate Policy. The Energy Journal Special Issue. Hijioka, Y., Y. Matsuoka, H. Nishimoto, M. Masui, and M. Kainuma, 2008. Global GHG emissions scenarios under GHG concentration stabilization targets. Journal of Global Environmental Engineering 13, 97-108.
RCP 4.5: Clarke, L., J. Edmonds, H. Jacoby, H. Pitcher, J. Reilly, R. Richels, 2007. Scenarios of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Atmospheric Concentrations. Sub-report 2.1A of Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.1 by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. Department of Energy, Office of Biological & Environmental Research, Washington, 7 DC., USA, 154 pp. Smith, S.J. and T.M.L. Wigley, 2006. Multi-Gas Forcing Stabilization with the MiniCAM. Energy Journal (Special Issue #3) pp 373-391. Wise, MA, KV Calvin, AM Thomson, LE Clarke, B Bond-Lamberty, RD Sands, SJ Smith, AC Janetos, JA Edmonds. 2009. Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Land Use and Energy. Science. 324:1183-1186. May 29, 2009.
RCP3-PD (2.6): van Vuuren, D.P., B. Eickhout, P.L. Lucas, and M.G.J. den Elzen, 2006. Long-term multi-gas scenarios to stabilise radiative forcing - Exploring costs and benefits within an integrated assessment framework. Multigas Mitigation and Climate Policy. The Energy Journal Special Issue. van Vuuren, D., M. den Elzen, P. Lucas, B. Eickhout, B. Strengers, B. van Ruijven, S. Wonink, R. van Houdt, 2007. Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels: an assessment of reduction strategies and costs. Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s/10584-006-9172-9.
The Agreement for Climate Transformation (ACT 2015) was a WRI-led consortium that developed a proposal for the design of an international climate agreement to catalyze climate action and move the world onto a low-carbon and climate resilient pathway.