Policy Forum

Targets for Stabilization of Atmospheric CO2

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Science  20 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5320, pp. 1818-1819
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5320.1818

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published emission trajectories for CO2 leading to atmospheric equilibrium in the range of 350 to 1000 parts per million by volume (ppmv). This range does not, however, imply that any one concentration is the appropriate value toward which policies influencing worldwide anthropogenic emissions should aim. Scientists must join the debate, despite the difficulty of pinpointing the correct number; otherwise, action may not be taken. Analysis suggests that a value nearer to 350 ppmv should be adopted, until it can be proven that a higher value is safe.

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