Abstract

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.