The Zero Emissions Commitment and climate stabilization

Sofia Palazzo Corner, Martin Siegert, Paulo Ceppi, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Thomas l. Frölicher, Angela Gallego-Sala, Joanna Haigh, Gabriele C. Hegerl, C. Jones, Reto Knutti, Charles D. Koven, Andrew H. Macdougall, Malte Meinshausen, Zebedee Nicholls, Jean baptiste Sallée, Benjamin M. Sanderson, Roland Séférian, Merritt Turetsky, Richard G. Williams, Sönke ZaehleJoeri Rogelj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

How do we halt global warming? Reaching net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is understood to be a key milestone on the path to a safer planet. But how confident are we that when we stop carbon emissions, we also stop global warming? The Zero Emissions Commitment (ZEC) quantifies how much warming or cooling we can expect following a complete cessation of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. To date, the best estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report is zero change, though with substantial uncertainty. In this article, we present an overview of the changes expected in major Earth system processes after net zero and their potential impact on global surface temperature, providing an outlook toward building a more confident assessment of ZEC in the decades to come. We propose a structure to guide research into ZEC and associated changes in the climate, separating the impacts expected over decades, centuries, and millennia. As we look ahead at the century billed to mark the end of net anthropogenic CO2 emissions, we ask: what is the prospect of a stable climate in a post-net zero world?
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Science
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023


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