Climate FAQs: Committment to our Future

Are we committed to future climate change?

Because of the long lifetime of carbon dioxide and the slow equilibration of the oceans, there is a substantial future commitment to further global climate change even in the absence of further emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Several modeling groups have performed "commitment" runs in order to examine the climate response even if the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had been stabilized in the year 2000. The exact results depend upon the model, but they all show a further global warming of about another 0.5°C, and additional and significant sea level rises caused by thermal expansion of the oceans by the end of the 21st Century. Further glacial melt is also likely.