The Azimuth Project
Climate change commitment

Contents

Idea

A climate change commitment arises when human actions make some change in climate inevitable, or nearly so, even if it has not occurred yet. In particular, most of the CO2 we put into the atmosphere will stay there a very long time. So, it is possible that when the CO2 concentration reaches a certain level, we will be in that position of knowing that certain effects are almost certain to happen, even if they take decades to occur. The most likely effects of this sort come from ‘tipping points’ in the climate system: see Tipping point for a list.

Of course, it is always conceivable that some form of geoengineering, e.g. actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere, will reverse what might at first seem like an inevitable climate change. So, the concept of ‘committment’ is dependent on which such options one considers possible.

category: climate