More ambitious reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be needed if the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C are to be met, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Oxford and other institutions said current pledges did not go far enough.

Richard Millar, lead author and post-doctoral research fellow at the Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative at the University of Oxford, said: “Limiting total CO2 emissions from the start of 2015 to beneath 240 billion tonnes of carbon or 880 billion tonnes of CO2 – or about 20 years’ of current emissions – would likely achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.”

The paper said previous estimates had been four times lower, making the Paris goals more achievable.

‘Within reach’

Co-author Michael Grubb of University College London added: “This paper shows that the Paris goals are within reach, but clarifies what the commitment to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C’ really implies.

“Starting with the global review due next year, countries have to get out of coal and strengthen their existing targets so as to keep open the window to the Paris goals.

“The sooner global emissions start to fall, the lower the risk not only of major climatic disruption, but also of the economic disruption that could otherwise arise from the need for subsequent reductions at historically unprecedented rates, should near-term action remain inadequate.”

> See the University of Oxford's statement