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Nature. 2016 Jan 28;529(7587):477-83. doi: 10.1038/nature16542. Epub 2016 Jan 20.

Allowable CO2 emissions based on regional and impact-related climate targets.

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Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Department of Geography, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.


Global temperature targets, such as the widely accepted limit of an increase above pre-industrial temperatures of two degrees Celsius, may fail to communicate the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The translation of CO2 emissions into regional- and impact-related climate targets could be more powerful because such targets are more directly aligned with individual national interests. We illustrate this approach using regional changes in extreme temperatures and precipitation. These scale robustly with global temperature across scenarios, and thus with cumulative CO2 emissions. This is particularly relevant for changes in regional extreme temperatures on land, which are much greater than changes in the associated global mean.


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