Climate change research and action must look beyond 2100

Christopher Lyon*, Erin E. Saupe, Christopher J. Smith, Daniel J. Hill, Andrew P. Beckerman, Lindsay C. Stringer, Robert Marchant, James McKay, Ariane Burke, Paul O’Higgins, Alexander M. Dunhill, Bethany J. Allen, Julien Riel-Salvatore, Tracy Aze

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic activity is changing Earth's climate and ecosystems in ways that are potentially dangerous and disruptive to humans. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, ensuring that these changes will be felt for centuries beyond 2100, the current benchmark for projection. Estimating the effects of past, current, and potential future emissions to only 2100 is therefore short-sighted. Critical problems for food production and climate-forced human migration are projected to arise well before 2100, raising questions regarding the habitability of some regions of the Earth after the turn of the century. To highlight the need for more distant horizon scanning, we model climate change to 2500 under a suite of emission scenarios and quantify associated projections of crop viability and heat stress. Together, our projections show global climate impacts increase significantly after 2100 without rapid mitigation. As a result, we argue that projections of climate and its effects on human well-being and associated governance and policy must be framed beyond 2100.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-361
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number2
Early online date24 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported through the White Rose Collaboration Fund and forms part of the Refugia of Futures Past project. A.B. and J.R‐S. acknowledge support from the Fonds Québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC), grant number 2019‐SE3‐245686. A.P.B. acknowledges support from the Natural Environment Research Council, grant number NE/T003502/1. B.J.A acknowledges support from Natural Environment Research Council Studentship (NE/L002574/1). C.J.S. was supported by Natural Environment Research Council/International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis Collaborative Research Fellowship (NE/T009381/1). E.E.S. was supported by the Leverhulme Trust, grant RPG‐2018‐170, and the Natural Science Research Council, grant NE/V011405/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • climate models
  • crop projections
  • heat stress

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