US scientists say we should abandon the widely recognised target to limit global warming to a maximum temperature increase of 2°C.
The goal, which for nearly a decade has been been the centre point of international efforts to reduce carbon emissions, is now unattainable, they say.
Instead, an array of vital signs such as ocean heat content, high-latitude temperatures or the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be adopted as alternative measures
In a comment article in the journal Nature, David Victor and Charles Kennel of the University of California, San Diego, write that the global average temperature rise over the past 16 years demonstrates that the 2°C target is not a good milestone against which to set emissions-mitigation policies.
They say current emissions trajectories will almost inevitably blow through it.
And the goal is impractical because individual governments and businesses can do little to influence it directly.
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