2C or not 2C? The legitimizing effect of the Paris temperature target on solar geoengineering

Nazira Kozhanova, Rakhyun E. Kim

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


The 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level temperature target is well-established as a climate change movement rally cry both in academia and policy. The reason why this target was chosen among other options such as rate of change or the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was rooted in the need to calculate economic costs of climate change, despite shortcomings of this target. Thus the 2 degrees Celsius target became an operational panelinterface within which the debates concerning emission targets were primarily held. The prominent role of this target was calcified as the maximum numerical temperature rise target in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement. In this paper we first trace the genealogy of the 2 degrees target in the context of the Paris Agreement negotiations. After deconstructing its origins, we argue that the acceptance of this target, despite its convenience, is not neutral and shifts the debate about mitigation towards riskier options, such as solar radiation management, in place of carbon emissions reduction. The way it does so is by reframing the debate solely within the temperature level, by redirection the attention from the CO2 concentration levels. To trace the origins of the 2 degrees target, we conducted in-depth interviews with the Paris Agreement treaty secretariat as well as core states representatives, then doing a discourse analysis using NVivo. Tracing this line of negotiations can start a discussion on why environmental problem shifting occurs, as looking at how did the debate got shifted at the side of the riskier option which has problem shifting by default, helps outlining a causal mechanism of problem shifting between multilateral environmental agreements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
Event2022 Toronto Conference on Earth System Governance: Governing accelerated transitions: justice, creativity, and power in a transforming world - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 20 Oct 202224 Oct 2022


Conference2022 Toronto Conference on Earth System Governance


Dive into the research topics of '2C or not 2C? The legitimizing effect of the Paris temperature target on solar geoengineering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this