Given that the Paris Agreement is unlikely to prevent dangerous climate overshoot, an alternative risk management strategy is urgently needed

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 6 of this Preprint.


Download Preprint


Graeme MacDonald Taylor , Sue Vink 


Because the 2015 Paris Agreement will not prevent dangerous climate change, there is an urgent need to develop an alternative mitigation strategy.

Even if most countries greatly increase their commitments and technological breakthroughs accelerate the transition to emission-free technologies, the 2°C target will still be overshot due to systemic inertia from existing greenhouse gases, warming oceans, and the decades required to replace existing infrastructure. Compounding risks are: (a) Most policy-makers greatly underestimate the scale, severity and duration of climate change, and the non-linear impacts of lags, feedbacks and tipping points; (b) Although all IPCC mitigation scenarios require the large-scale deployment of climate geoengineering, many methods may not be politically and/or technologically feasible; (c) While most scenarios assume climate overshoot will occur before safe climates are re-established, many human and environmental systems cannot adapt to higher temperatures. Temperatures likely to cause catastrophic and/or irreversible damage pose unacceptable risks.

Developing a feasible mitigation strategy will require prioritising research both on climate overshoot risks, and on the relative effectiveness, risks, costs and timelines of potential mitigation methods. Since both carbon removal geoengineering and solar geoengineering will be required to rapidly mitigate dangerous climate change, the viability and risks of all potential geoengineering methods need to be investigated.

This research is a prerequisite for evaluating the comparative benefits, costs and risks of using, or not using, various forms of mitigation. A realistic risk management plan can then be developed containing mitigation targets that are precise, measurable and attainable, with clear constraints on the magnitude and duration of both climate overshoot risks and mitigation methods.



Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences


climate change, geoengineering, risk management, Paris Agreement, overshoot, mitigation, viable, Plan B


Published: 2020-12-18 08:46

Last Updated: 2021-04-30 19:09

Older Versions

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.