Often overlooked in the dialogue and debates about how to combat climate change, yet vital to these discussions, are the metrics that are currently in use for climate accounting. These climate metrics lie at the heart of treaty negotiations, government policies, carbon registries, and corporate goal-setting, and are the basis for evaluating how billions of dollars are invested for carbon offsets and mitigation efforts.
The climate metrics currently in use worldwide date back to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. However, although climate science has continued to progress since that time, the climate metricshave stood still. We now know much more about the contribution of short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon, the role of positive and negative climate forcers, the importance of regional hotspots such as the Arctic, and oncoming near-term temperature thresholds (as early as 2035).
Today’s climate metrics are woefully out of date. This white paper summarizes the limits of current climate accounting methods, then describes the updated climate metrics that have been developed to overcome these hurdles, along with implications for identifying effective mitigation solutions.