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Title: The Paris Agreement and Climate Justice: Inequitable Impacts of Sea Level Rise Associated With Temperature Targets

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are causing unprecedented changes to the climate. In 2015, at the United Nations (UN) Conference of the Parties in Paris, France, countries agreed to limit the global mean temperature (GMT) increase to 2°C above preindustrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. Due to the long‐term irreversibility of sea level rise (SLR), risks to island and coastal populations are not well encapsulated by the goal of limiting GMT warming by 2100. This review article investigates the climate justice implications of temperature targets in light of our increasing understanding of the spatially variable impact and long temporal commitment to rising seas. In particular we highlight the impact that SLR will have on island states and the role of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in UN climate negotiations. As a case study we review dual impacts from the Antarctic Ice Sheet under a changing climate: (a) recent climate and ice sheet modeling shows that Antarctic melt has the potential to cause rapid SLR with a distinct spatial pattern leading to AOSIS nations experiencing SLR at least 11% higher than the global average and up to 33% higher; and (b) future ice sheet more » melt will result in a negative feedback on GMT, thus delaying temperature rise. When considering these impacts in conjunction, justice concerns associated with the Paris Agreement are exacerbated.

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Journal Name:
Earth's Future
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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