I think the shift in temperature focus is almost entirely because of the Paris Agreement. It’s pretty natural that they would mention 2 degrees and 1.5 degrees a lot given Paris. Indeed, they had a special report on 1.5 degrees for that reason. I don’t think it implies a change in research focus in the main reports since, as we have seen almost all impacts lit assesses the effects of RCP8.5.
Given that the RCP mentions have been pretty constant (barring RCP6 being mentioned less), I don’t really see that there has been any change in research focus. I especially don’t think it is true to say that the climate science literature is ignoring impacts of more than 3 degrees: that is just very clear if you dig into the impacts literature on any particular impact. In fact, the impacts literature focuses a lot on 4.3 degrees and assumes that we will have little adaptive capacity to deal with that.
I strongly share John’s intuition that this is primarily an artefact of talking about desired temperature targets in the IPPC report rather than a change in the foci of the research that the IPCC reports on.Would it be possible to test this by denoting which share of the 0-2 degree mentions are surrounded by words like “Paris Agreement”, “policy targets”, “ideally”, “well below” etc. (i.e. words that typically co-occur with the statement of the ambition of the Paris Agreement) . Or, alternatively, by focusing on the climate science & impact sections of the IPCC reports?
Good idea. I’ll look into this when I find the time and report back here.
Our conversation kinda feels like to me that we are talking a bit past each other. As I understand your message you are saying that the shift in temperature focus is due to the Paris Agreement. This is also what we say in the paper. However, you disagree in the conclusions from that, by saying that this does not imply a focus shift.
And this is the part I don’t get. If the IPCC focuses on different things due to the Paris Agreement, how is this not a shift in research focus? Especially after you said in your post before that your statement is based on a strong increase in the mentions of RCP8.5, which I showed to not have happened.
Concerning your statement: “I especially don’t think it is true to say that the climate science literature is ignoring impacts of more than 3 degree”. The paper does not claim that we ignore impacts of more than 3 degrees, merely that our focus has shifted away from that.
Could it be that our crux is that my model is something like:
Temperatures are more important to look at, because they are what ultimately decides the impact of climate change. Therefore, a shift in them is really concerning.
While your model seems to me:
Only RCPs are important and it does not really matter which temperatures they ultimately look at. As long as RCP8.5 is studied a lot, you cannot say that higher warming is underresearched.