Collection |

Targeting 1.5 °C

In December 2015, representatives from 195 nations met in Paris to negotiate an international agreement to combat climate change. The resulting ‘Paris Agreement’ codified an aspiration to limit the level of global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels —  lower than the previously generally agreed target of 2 °C. From a research standpoint, a more ambitious temperature target poses many questions that could draw scientific and intellectual attention and resources. Furthermore, the timescales in which researchers must decide how to engage with this new policy context is very short.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has agreed to publish a special report on the costs and implications of the 1.5 °C target in 2018. In order to inform that process, researchers must decide which efforts to prioritise and begin work almost immediately. But deciding what can and should be delivered is far from trivial. This evolving collection draws together content from Nature Climate Change, Nature Geoscience, Nature Communications and Nature to provide comment on how research might best inform decisions about limiting climate warming as well as presenting pertinent new research that adressess this very question.

Image credit: © Mark Airs / Alamy Stock Photo

Research

  • Nature | Letter

    Models show that even if global temperature rise can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, only about 65 per cent of glacier mass will remain in the high mountains of Asia by the end of this century, and if temperatures rise by more than this the effects will be much more extreme.

    • P. D. A. Kraaijenbrink
    • , M. F. P. Bierkens
    • , A. F. Lutz
    •  &  W. W. Immerzeel
  • Nature Climate Change | Article

    Nations are currently pursuing efforts to constrain anthropogenic warming to 1.5 °C. In such a world, model projections suggest the Arctic will be ice-free every one in forty years, compared to one in every five under stabilized 2 °C warming.

    • Michael Sigmond
    • , John C. Fyfe
    •  &  Neil C. Swart
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    If CO2 emissions after 2015 do not exceed 200 GtC, climate warming after 2015 will fall below 0.6 °C in 66% of CMIP5 models, according to an analysis based on combining a simple climate–carbon-cycle model with estimated ranges for key climate system properties.

    • Richard J. Millar
    • , Jan S. Fuglestvedt
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    • , Michael J. Grubb
    • , H. Damon Matthews
    • , Ragnhild B. Skeie
    • , Piers M. Forster
    • , David J. Frame
    •  &  Myles R. Allen
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Rising seas are a legacy of present and future climate change. Here the authors show that under the Paris Agreement, emissions in the next decades have a strong influence on the amount of sea level rise in the centuries to come, with the uncertainty dominated by ice-sheet contributions.

    • Matthias Mengel
    • , Alexander Nauels
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    •  &  Carl-Friedrich Schleussner

Review

  • Nature Communications | Review Article | open

    Research and debate are intensifying on complementing CO2 emissions reductions with hypothetical climate geoengineering techniques. Here, the authors assess their potentials, uncertainties and risks, and show that they cannot yet be relied on to significantly contribute to meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

    • Mark G. Lawrence
    • , Stefan Schäfer
    • , Helene Muri
    • , Vivian Scott
    • , Andreas Oschlies
    • , Naomi E. Vaughan
    • , Olivier Boucher
    • , Hauke Schmidt
    • , Jim Haywood
    •  &  Jürgen Scheffran
  • Nature Climate Change | Perspective

    Action needs to be taken to limit the impacts of climate change, however, human rights and the right to development need to be preserved. This Perspective weighs the risks of action and inaction on achieving a just transition to a low-carbon world.

    • Mary Robinson
    •  &  Tara Shine
  • Nature | Perspective

    The results of efforts to limit global mean warming to below 1.5 °C may include many possible future world climates.

    • Sonia I. Seneviratne
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    • , Roland Séférian
    • , Richard Wartenburger
    • , Myles R. Allen
    • , Michelle Cain
    • , Richard J. Millar
    • , Kristie L. Ebi
    • , Neville Ellis
    • , Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
    • , Antony J. Payne
    • , Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
    • , Petra Tschakert
    •  &  Rachel F. Warren
  • Nature Geoscience | Review Article

    A review of Earth system changes associated with past warmer climates provides constraints on the environmental changes that could occur under warming of 2 °C or more over pre-industrial temperatures.

    • Hubertus Fischer
    • , Katrin J. Meissner
    • , Alan C. Mix
    • , Nerilie J. Abram
    • , Jacqueline Austermann
    • , Victor Brovkin
    • , Emilie Capron
    • , Daniele Colombaroli
    • , Anne-Laure Daniau
    • , Kelsey A. Dyez
    • , Thomas Felis
    • , Sarah A. Finkelstein
    • , Samuel L. Jaccard
    • , Erin L. McClymont
    • , Alessio Rovere
    • , Johannes Sutter
    • , Eric W. Wolff
    • , Stéphane Affolter
    • , Pepijn Bakker
    • , Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas
    • , Carlo Barbante
    • , Thibaut Caley
    • , Anders E. Carlson
    • , Olga Churakova (Sidorova)
    • , Giuseppe Cortese
    • , Brian F. Cumming
    • , Basil A. S. Davis
    • , Anne de Vernal
    • , Julien Emile-Geay
    • , Sherilyn C. Fritz
    • , Paul Gierz
    • , Julia Gottschalk
    • , Max D. Holloway
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Michal Kucera
    • , Marie-France Loutre
    • , Daniel J. Lunt
    • , Katarzyna Marcisz
    • , Jennifer R. Marlon
    • , Philippe Martinez
    • , Valerie Masson-Delmotte
    • , Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles
    • , Bette L. Otto-Bliesner
    • , Christoph C. Raible
    • , Bjørg Risebrobakken
    • , María F. Sánchez Goñi
    • , Jennifer Saleem Arrigo
    • , Michael Sarnthein
    • , Jesper Sjolte
    • , Thomas F. Stocker
    • , Patricio A. Velasquez Alvárez
    • , Willy Tinner
    • , Paul J. Valdes
    • , Hendrik Vogel
    • , Heinz Wanner
    • , Qing Yan
    • , Zicheng Yu
    • , Martin Ziegler
    •  &  Liping Zhou
  • Nature Geoscience | Perspective

    Land management with the aim of reducing incoming solar radiation could help with regional-scale climate adaptation and mitigation as well as ecosystem services, and avoids several shortcomings of global geoengineering.

    • Sonia I. Seneviratne
    • , Steven J. Phipps
    • , Andrew J. Pitman
    • , Annette L. Hirsch
    • , Edouard L. Davin
    • , Markus G. Donat
    • , Martin Hirschi
    • , Andrew Lenton
    • , Micah Wilhelm
    •  &  Ben Kravitz
  • Nature Climate Change | Review Article

    Scenario analyses suggest that negative emissions technologies (NETs) are necessary to limit dangerous warming. Here the authors assess the biophysical limits to, and economic costs of, the widespread application of NETs.

    • Pete Smith
    • , Steven J. Davis
    • , Felix Creutzig
    • , Sabine Fuss
    • , Jan Minx
    • , Benoit Gabrielle
    • , Etsushi Kato
    • , Robert B. Jackson
    • , Annette Cowie
    • , Elmar Kriegler
    • , Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Jennifer Milne
    • , Josep G. Canadell
    • , David McCollum
    • , Glen Peters
    • , Robbie Andrew
    • , Volker Krey
    • , Gyami Shrestha
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Thomas Gasser
    • , Arnulf Grübler
    • , Wolfgang K. Heidug
    • , Matthias Jonas
    • , Chris D. Jones
    • , Florian Kraxner
    • , Emma Littleton
    • , Jason Lowe
    • , José Roberto Moreira
    • , Nebojsa Nakicenovic
    • , Michael Obersteiner
    • , Anand Patwardhan
    • , Mathis Rogner
    • , Ed Rubin
    • , Ayyoob Sharifi
    • , Asbjørn Torvanger
    • , Yoshiki Yamagata
    • , Jae Edmonds
    •  &  Cho Yongsung

Opinion & Comment

  • Nature Climate Change | Comment

    The benefits of limiting global warming to the lower Paris Agreement target of 1.5 °C are substantial with respect to population exposure to heat, and should impel countries to strive towards greater emissions reductions.

    • Andrew D. King
    • , Markus G. Donat
    • , Sophie C. Lewis
    • , Benjamin J. Henley
    • , Daniel M. Mitchell
    • , Peter A. Stott
    • , Erich M. Fischer
    •  &  David J. Karoly
  • Nature Energy | Comment

    Most scenarios to meet the Paris Agreement require negative emissions technologies. The EU has assumed a global leadership role in mitigation action and low-carbon energy technology development and deployment, but carbon dioxide removal presents a serious challenge to its low-carbon policy paradigm and experience.

    • Vivian Scott
    •  &  Oliver Geden
  • Nature Energy | Comment

    Although nearly all 2 °C scenarios use negative CO2 emission technologies, only relatively small investments are being made in them, and concerns are being raised regarding their large-scale use. If no explicit policy decisions are taken soon, however, their use will simply be forced on us to meet the Paris climate targets.

    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Andries F. Hof
    • , Mariësse A. E. van Sluisveld
    •  &  Keywan Riahi
  • Nature Energy | Comment

    Nation states need to incentivize negative emissions technologies if they are to take the decarbonization of whole energy systems seriously. This incentivization must account for public values and interests in relation to which technologies to incentivize, how they should be incentivized and how they should be governed once incentivized.

    • Rob Bellamy
  • Nature Geoscience | Comment

    Temperature overshoot scenarios that make the 1.5 °C climate target feasible could turn into sources of political flexibility. Climate scientists must provide clear constraints on overshoot magnitude, duration and timing, to ensure accountability.

    • Oliver Geden
    •  &  Andreas Löschel
  • Nature Geoscience | Comment

    Upward estimates for carbon budgets are unlikely to lead to action-focused climate policy. Climate researchers need to understand processes and incentives in policymaking and politics to communicate effectively.

    • Oliver Geden