Going beyond two degrees? The risks and opportunities of alternative options

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Since the mid-1990s, the aim of keeping climate change within 2 °C has become firmly entrenched in policy discourses. In the past few years, the likelihood of achieving it has been increasingly called into question. The debate around what to do with a target that seems less and less achievable is, however, only just beginning. As the UN commences a two-year review of the 2 °C target, this article moves beyond the somewhat binary debates about whether or not it should or will be met, in order to analyse more fully some of the alternative options that have been identified but not fully explored in the existing literature. For the first time, uncertainties, risks, and opportunities associated with four such options are identified and synthesized from the literature. The analysis finds that the significant risks and uncertainties associated with some options may encourage decision makers to recommit to the 2 °C target as the least unattractive course of action.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-769
Number of pages19
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


    Research areas

  • adaptation policy, climate policy, global warming, governance, mitigation policy, post-2012 negotiations, risk governance, two degrees, UNFCC

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Gold Open Access

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