Dr Dave Frame: Setting emissions target misses the point

A column in the New Zealand Herald by New Zealand scientist Dr Dave Frame, who is deputy director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford, and visiting lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.

An excerpt: (Read in full here)

“Climate change is a long-term, gradually evolving problem. The impacts that arise from a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are primarily due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide over time, rather than annual emissions.

“This doesn’t mean we can go on emitting greenhouse gases indefinitely – the case for us to reverse recent growth in emissions and move to a lower carbon economy is undeniable.

“But as colleagues and I argued in the journal Nature recently, what really matters is the total amount of carbon dioxide released over the next few hundred years, not the details of the timing. The climate doesn’t care exactly when we burn carbon, only how much eventually gets burnt.”