Sustainable development depends upon understanding interactions among multiple complex subsystems, but scientific research tends to focus on one (or part of one) subsystem at a time. This review describes recent progress toward more integrated, interdisciplinary science that is problem-driven, solution-oriented, and intentionally policy-relevant, and then discusses future directions for this science.
Leaking methane isn't the only reason natural gas may not reduce GHG emissions: gas also competes against low-carbon renewable energy sources. This paper shows that abundant gas replaces both coal and renewables and in the end has little effect on future US GHG emissions even if there is no leakage. Policy may reduce emissions; cheap gas on its own won't.
Because climate warming is proportional to cumulative GHG emissions, we can calculate emissions budgets that avoid certain levels of warming. The bigger question is how to divvy up that budget among countries. Industrialized countries don't want to stop emitting and developing countries want to emit more. This paper describes a quantitative method for doing the sharing.
Worldwide, existing power plants represent roughly 300 billion tons of future CO2 emissions if all plants operate for 40 years, and these "committed emissions" in the power sector have been growing at a rate of ~4% per year. This paper proposes tracking these commitments to quantify future emissions implied by current investments.