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Allen, M. R., Shine, K. P., Fuglestvedt, J. S., Millar, R. J., Cain, M., Frame, D. J., & Macey, A. H. (2018). A solution to the misrepresentations of CO2-equivalent emissions of short-lived climate pollutants under ambitious mitigation. Npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, 1(1), 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-018-0026-8
While cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dominate anthropogenic warming over centuries, temperatures over the coming decades are also strongly affected by short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), complicating the estimation of cumulative emission budgets for ambitious mitigation goals. Using conventional Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) to convert SLCPs to “CO2-equivalent” emissions misrepresents their impact on global temperature.
This paper shows that a new way of using GWPs, called GWP*, accurately displays the impact of emissions of both long-lived and short-lived pollutants on temperatures over a wide range of timescales, including under ambitious mitigation when conventional GWPs fail.