The implications of the Paris Agreement on climate change for global biodiversity hotspots

Study examines the effects of limiting warming to 2°C on climate refugia in globally significant biodiversity areas

Data resources used via GBIF : 80,000 species
Polar bears
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) by Sandra Eglīte via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Under the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, countries have pledged to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming. Current data, however, shows that contributions are falling short of the required levels towards limiting warming to even 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In this study, researchers modelled the distributions of ~80,000 plants and animals to assess the risks to species in globally significant biodiversity conservation areas (biodiversity hotspots), quantifying the benefits of national emission mitigations and the effects of limiting warming to 2°C against 4.5°C in the unmitigated scenario.

The results show that without mitigation, on average only 33 per cent of each conservation area will be available as a climate refigium. If warming is limited to 2°C, however, the average refugium area is doubled. The authors conclude that limiting warming to well below 2°C would further reduce risk of local extinctions.

Original article

Warren R, Price J, VanDerWal J, Cornelius S and Sohl H (2018) The implications of the United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change for globally significant biodiversity areas. Climatic Change. Springer Science and Business Media LLC 147(3-4): 395–409. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2158-6