A scientific critique of the two-degree climate change target

Knutti R, Rogelj J, Sedlacek J, & Fischer EM (2016). A scientific critique of the two-degree climate change target. Nature Geoscience 9 (1): 13-18. DOI:10.1038/ngeo2595.

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Abstract

The world's governments agreed to limit global mean temperature change to below 2-derees C compared with pr-industrial levels in the years following the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen. This 2-degrees C warming target is perceived by the pulic as a universally accepted goal, identified by scientists as a safe limit that avoids dangerous climate change. This perception is incorrect: no scientific assessment has clearly justified or defended the 2-degrees C target as a safe level of warming, and indeed, this is not a problem that science alone can address. We argue that global temperature is the best climate target quantity, but it is unclear what level can be consiered safe. The 2-degrees C target is useful for anchoring discussions, but has been ineffective in triggering the required emission reductions; debates on considering a lower target are strongly at odds with the current real-world level of action. These debates are moot, however, as the decisions that need to be taken now to limit warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees C are very similar. We need to agree how to start, not where to end mitigation.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Bibliographic Reference: Nature Geoscience; [January 2016] (Published online 7 December 2015)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2017 12:15
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11706

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