Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The 2oC Climate Change Target A Scientific Critique

The governments of the world agreed to limit the change in global mean temperature to below 2oC compared to temperature that existed in pre-industrial times in the years following the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The warming target of 2oC is generally perceived by the public as a goal that is universally accepted, that has been identified by scientists as a safe limit that avoids dangerous climate change. The consensus among climate scientists is completely different, there has been no scientific assessment that has clearly justified or defended the 2oC target as a safe level of warming, and as Knutti et al. say the addressing of this problem cannot be achieved by scientists alone. Knutti et al. argue that global temperature is the best climate target quantity, though it is not clear what level can be considered safe. While the target is useful for anchoring discussions, it has been ineffective in triggering the emission reductions that are required; the debates of considering a lower target are at odds with the current real world level of action. As the decisions needing to be made now to limit warming to 1.5 or 2oC are very similar, these debates are moot. The agreement that is needed is where to start, not where to end.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Knutti, R., J. Rogelj, J. Sedlacek and E. M. Fischer (2016). "A scientific critique of the two-degree climate change target." Nature Geosci 9(1): 13-18.


Author: M. H. Monroe
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