PerspectiveEcology

Narrowing pathways to a sustainable future

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Science  18 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6390, pp. 714-715
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6671

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Summary

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009, the Alliance of Small Island States, supported by African countries, called for a temperature target of 1.5°C above the preindustrial level, as opposed to the more broadly accepted 2°C limit, as the basis for a global multilateral climate agreement. A subsequent UNFCCC-established review concluded that 2°C of warming cannot be considered safe and that less warming would be preferable (1). The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, formally recognized this notion in its stated aims to hold the increase to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels (2). On page 791 of this issue, Warren et al. (3) provide a detailed analysis of the avoided risk to species' geographic ranges if a 1.5°C rather than a 2°C target is attained.