The reasons for concern framework communicates scientific understanding about risks in relation to varying levels of climate change. The framework, now a cornerstone of the IPCC assessments, aggregates global risks into five categories as a function of global mean temperature change. We review the framework’s conceptual basis and the risk judgments made in the most recent IPCC report, confirming those judgments in most cases in the light of more recent literature and identifying their limitations. We point to extensions of the framework that offer complementary climate change metrics to global mean temperature change and better account for possible changes in social and ecological system vulnerability. Further research should systematically evaluate risks under alternative scenarios of future climatic and societal conditions.
O’Neill B. C., Oppenheimer M., Warren R., Hallegatte S., Kopp R. E., Pörtner H. O., Scholes R., Birkmann J., Foden W., Licker R., Mach K. J., Marbaix P., Mastrandrea M. D., Price J., Takahashi K., van Ypersele J.-P. & Yohe G., 2017. IPCC reasons for concern regarding climate change risks. Nature Climate Change 7: 28–37. Article (subscription required).