This study explores the critical notion of how feasible it is to achieve long-term mitigation goals to limit global temperature change. It uses a model inter-comparison of three integrated assessment models (TIAM-Grantham, MESSAGE-GLOBIOM and WITCH) harmonized for socio-economic growth drivers using one of the new shared socio-economic pathways (SSP2), to analyse multiple mitigation scenarios aimed at different temperature changes in 2100, in order to assess the model outputs against a range of indicators developed so as to systematically compare the feasibility across scenarios. These indicators include mitigation costs and carbon prices, rates of emissions reductions and energy efficiency improvements, rates of deployment of key low-carbon technologies, reliance on negative emissions, and stranding of power generation assets. The results highlight how much more challenging the 2 °C goal is, when compared to the 2.5–4 °C goals, across virtually all measures of feasibility. Any delay in mitigation or limitation in technology options also renders the 2 °C goal much less feasible across the economic and technical dimensions explored. Finally, a sensitivity analysis indicates that aiming for less than 2 °C is even less plausible, with significantly higher mitigation costs and faster carbon price increases, significantly faster decarbonization and zero-carbon technology deployment rates, earlier occurrence of very significant carbon capture and earlier onset of global net negative emissions. Such a systematic analysis allows a more in-depth consideration of what realistic level of long-term temperature changes can be achieved and what adaptation strategies are therefore required.
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