IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability UNFCCC Article 2

The question of which impacts might constitute DAI in terms of Article 2 has only recently attracted a high level of attention, and the literature still remains relatively sparse (see Oppenheimer and Petsonk 2005; Schellnhuber et al., 2006 for reviews). Interpreting Article 2 (ultimately the obligation of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC) involves a scientific assessment of what impacts might be associated with different levels of greenhouse gas concentrations or climate change; and a normative evaluation by policy-makers of which potential impacts and associated likelihoods are significant enough to constitute, individually or in combination, DAI. This assessment is informed by the magnitude and timing of climate impacts as well as by their distribution across regions, sectors and population groups (e.g., Corfee-Morlot and Agrawala, 2004; Schneider and Mastrandrea, 2005; Yamin et al., 2005). The social, cultural and ethical dimensions of DAI have drawn increasing attention recently (Jamieson 1992, 1996; Rayner and Malone, 1998; Adger, 2001; Gupta et al., 2003; Gardiner, 2006). The references to adverse effects as significant deleterious effects in Article 1 of the UNFCCC[1] and to natural ecosystems, food production, and sustainable development in Article 2 provide guidance as to which impacts may be considered relevant to the definition of DAI (Schneider et al., 2001).

Interpreting Article 2 is necessarily a dynamic process because the assessment of what levels of greenhouse gas concentrations may be considered ‘dangerous’ would be modified based on changes in scientific knowledge, social values and political priorities.

  1. ^  Article 1 reads, “For the purposes of this Convention: 1. ‘Adverse effects of climate change’ means changes in the physical environment or biota resulting from climate change which have significant deleterious effects on the composition, resilience or productivity of natural and managed ecosystems or on the operation of socio-economic systems or on human health and welfare.”