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Three Views Of Two Degrees

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    (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Telegraphenberg A 31, 14473 Potsdam, Germany; ECF (European Climate Forum) and Beijing Normal University, China)


    (European Climate Forum (ECF), P. O. Box 60064, 14406 Potsdam, Germany)

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    Limiting global warming to 2°Celsius above pre-industrial global mean temperature has become a widely endorsed goal for climate policy. It has also been severely criticized. We show how the limit emerged out of a marginal remark in an early paper about climate policy and distinguish three possible views of it. The catastrophe view sees it as the threshold separating a domain of safety from a domain of catastrophe. The cost-benefit view sees it as a strategy to optimize the relation between the costs and benefits of climate policy. The focal point view sees it as a solution to a complex coordination problem. We argue that the focal point view is the most appropriate. It leads to an emphasis on implementing effective steps towards a near-zero emissions economy, without panicking in the face of a possible temporary overshooting. After several decades of practical experiences, the focal point may or may not be redefined on the basis of knowledge gathered thanks to these experiences.

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    Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal Climate Change Economics.

    Volume (Year): 01 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 03 ()
    Pages: 145-166

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    Handle: RePEc:wsi:ccexxx:v:01:y:2010:i:03:p:145-166
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