Kirschbaum, M.U.F. (2014). Climate Change Impact Potentials as an alternative to Global Warming Potentials. Environmental Research Letters 9: Article #034014.

Abstract. For policy applications, such as for the Kyoto Protocol, the climate change contributions of different greenhouse gases are usually quantified through their Global Warming Potentials. They are calculated based on the cumulative radiative forcing resulting from a pulse emission of a gas over a specified time period. However, these calculations are not explicitly linked to an assessment of ultimate climate-change impacts. A new metric, the Climate Change Impact Potential (CCIP), is presented here that is based on explicitly defining the climate change perturbations that lead to three different kinds of climate change impacts.

1) those related directly to temperature increases;

2) those related to the rate of warming; and

3) those related to cumulative warming.

From those definitions, a quantitative assessment of the importance of pulse emissions of each gas is developed, with each kind of impact assigned equal weight for an overall impact assessment. Total impacts are calculated under the RCP6 concentration pathway as a base case. The relevant Climate Change Impact Potentials are then calculated as the marginal increase of those impacts over 100 years through the emission of an additional unit of each gas in 2010. These calculations are demonstrated for CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. Compared with Global Warming Potentials, Climate Change Impact Potentials would increase the importance of pulse emissions of long-lived nitrous oxide and reduce the importance of short-lived methane.

Keywords: carbon dioxide; climate policy; impact; global warming potential; methane; nitrous oxide; radiative forcing.

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