A new “widget” uses a sophisticated simulation called C-ROADS to calculate how much the Earth’s average temperature is expected to rise given the current suite of proposals under consideration in Copenhagen.  The Climate Scoreboard is automatically updated each day as the overall terms—country by country commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—for a potential global climate treaty evolve at COP15.  Click on details to view the Climate Scoreboard and to learn more.

post by Anne Polansky

The yellow “business-as-usual” line represents the estimated global temperature increase in 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

The blue “proposals” line represents the estimated global temperature increase in 2100 if the current proposals were enacted. The shaded blue curve shows the uncertainty in the climate system’s response to emissions. The C-ROADS-CP climate simulator is used to calculate the position of the blue line. When proposals change, the analysis is updated and the position of the blue shifts, wherever the widget is embedded.

The green “goals” line represents the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°-2.0°C

During the climate talks in Copenhagen, the blue line is adjusted daily to reflect the collection of national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using “C-ROADS”—described as a decision-maker-oriented simulation that helps users understand the long term climate impacts of scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  It allows for the rapid summation of national greenhouse gas reduction pledges in order to show the long-term impact on the climate.

Climate Interactive describes the Climate Scoreboard this way:

Just as decision makers and negotiators need ways to assess the discussions towards creating a global climate treaty, advocacy groups and citizens around the world also want to know: how close do current proposals bring the world to climate goals such as stabilizing CO2 concentrations at 350ppm or limiting temperature increase to 2°C? The challenges of adding up proposals that are framed in multiple ways and the difficulty of determining long-term impacts of any given global greenhouse gas emissions pathway are just as present for citizens as they are for policy makers and political leaders.

With these facts in mind, our team is tracking the proposals under consideration and using the same climate change simulation available to policy-makers to report our estimate of how close ‘current proposals’ come to realizing climate goals. And we are aiming to do it in real-time as the summit unfolds.
. . .
The Climate Scoreboard is an online tool that allows the public, journalists and other interested parties to track progress in the ongoing negotiations to produce an international climate treaty. The Scoreboard automatically reports, on a daily basis, whether proposals in the treaty process commit countries to enough greenhouse gas emissions reductions to achieve widely expressed goals, such as limiting future warming to 1.5 to 2.0°C (2.7 to 3.6°F) above pre-industrial temperatures.
. . .
In the run-up to COP-15, we are scanning UNFCCC submissions and news sources from around the world to collect a list of what we call “current proposals” – possible scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions by UNFCCC parties.  We share our compilation and use the C-ROADS-CP climate simulation to calculate the expected long-term impacts (in terms of GHG concentration, temperature increase, and sea level rise) if those proposals were to be fully implemented. We then share the results, via this webpage, twitter, and partnerships with NGOs around the world. During the Copenhagen Conference itself, we will be updating our assessment in as close to real time as we manage. The data tables and graphics will change to reflect the current ‘state of the global deal’ and if you have embedded the Scoreboard widget on your own website it will automatically update if the negotiating positions shift.

More About C-ROADS and C-ROADS-CP (Common Platform)

C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview And Decision-support Simulator) is a timely simulation tool that provides policymakers and policy analysts in government, NGOs and the private sector, as well as the general public, a better understanding and intuitive feel for the broad brush, long term consequences of climate change given various GHG reduction strategies. This very rapid simulation model reproduces the response properties of state-of- the-art three dimensional climate models very well – well within the uncertainties of the high resolution models—and with sufficient precision to provide useful information for its intended audience. The dynamic non-linear model is sufficiently sensitive that C-ROADS can be used as a decision support tool in understanding and discussing efforts aimed at limiting temperature change to 2 degrees C of warming, which is the goal of the European Union and supported by many in the scientific and NGO communities. The ability to rapidly test a range of policy proposals for future emissions is particularly useful for audiences wanting to understand the implications of different decisions in real time. The model draws on a number of creative indicators (emissions per capita and per $ GDP) to explore potential emission reduction regimes.

C-ROADS was developed under the guidance of a top-notch review team:

Dr. Robert Watson, Review Chair, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia (UK)

Mr. Eric Beinhocker, McKinsey Global Institute (UK)

Dr. Bert de Vries, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (The Netherlands)

Dr. Klaus Hasselmann, Max-Planck Institut fu?r Meteorologie (Germany)

Dr. David Lane, London School of Economics & Political Science (UK)

Dr. Jorgen Randers, Norwegian School of Management BI (Norway)

Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University (US)


Robert Watson, a former NASA scientist and White House official, was essentially forced out of his position as chair of the IPCC in 2002, after a fossil fuel industry campaign to replace him shortly after President Bush took office in 2001.  He is now Director of Strategic Development at the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, UK, and acts as Chief Scientific Adviser for the British Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dr. Robert Corell and other US climate scientists and experts have briefed top White House officials, Members of Congress, and governments internationally using presentations based on C-ROADS simulations.  Decisionmakers can sit around a table and as “what if” questions, then obtain instant feedback on the ramifications for the global climate system.  Sen. John Kerry is a fan of the tool, often using it to brief other policymakers.

Sen. Kerry spoke about the C-ROADS interactive tool at a March 2009 presentation at The Heinz Center sponsored by the American Meteorological Society—a video of his presentation:

Senator John Kerry Introduces C-ROADS Climate Simulator from Climate Interactive on Vimeo.