Intended for healthcare professionals


Global warming must stay below 1.5°C

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 22 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4410
  1. Adam Law, board president1,
  2. Patrick Saunders, visiting professor of public health2,
  3. John Middleton, president3,
  4. David McCoy, professor of global public health4
  1. 1PSE Healthy Energy, Ithaca, NY, USA
  2. 2University of Staffordshire, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Faculty of Public Health, London, UK
  4. 4Queen Mary University London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D McCoy d.mccoy{at}

We are facing a global emergency and should organise accordingly

Twelve years to act or we will face catastrophic climate change. This is the core message of the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 8 October.1

The basis for this message is twofold. Firstly, we have already warmed the planet by 1°C above pre-industrial levels, with serious negative effects on people, ecosystems, and livelihoods worldwide. Secondly, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions decisively over the next 12 years, we will extend warming to beyond 1.5°C: the limit in the 2015 Paris agreement signed by 195 countries. For many ecosystems and populations, even this will fail to prevent disaster. However, the IPCC report describes why any failure to meet this target would have catastrophic effects.

The science of anthropogenic global warming and its effects have been previously explained in The BMJ.23 The IPCC’s new synthesis of more than 6000 recent scientific papers highlights once again the many dangers posed …

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