It's time to restore the climate to the environmental conditions that are safe for civilisation and all forms of life


The “safe climate” approach identifies a band of environmental conditions (pre-industrial) known from experience to be safe for civilisation and all forms of life. This is a very different approach to speculating about the maximum climate damage that civilisation and the Earth system can tolerate.

The task ahead requires management to keep the climate within this safe band, or if the Earth system has breached the safe band, to restore the Earth to the safe zone as quickly as possible.

The climate system could be likened to our bodies’ management of temperature. The core temperature of a human body rarely deviates from 37°C and even after recovery from illness the temperature of a healthy person does not stay elevated but reverts to normal.

Given that humans can now change the climate system dramatically there is a need to consciously apply the same homeostatic model to the Earth’s management. Otherwise we will keep driving the climate system to the brink of breakdown.


The major melting of the Arctic sea ice and mountain glaciers across the world, and temperature-driven bleaching started at least 30 years ago. To restore a safe climate the indications are that the Earth needs to be cooled by between 0.3ºC and 0.8ºC.

To achieve this it is likely that CO2 levels will need to be reduced to somewhere between 280 parts per million (ppm) and 320 pp

“We should set an atmospheric carbon dioxide target that is low enough to avoid 'the point of no return'. To achieve this, we must not only eliminate current greenhouse gas emissions but also remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and take urgent steps to cool the planet”.

Dr James Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies


  • To restore and stay within the range of safe climate conditions that allows for the maintenance of civilisation, the protection of the world’s people and the conservation of all species (except in the case of organisms associated with epidemics).


  • Reduce the Earth’s temperature by between 0.3ºC and 0.8ºC.
  • Reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to between 280ppm and 320ppm as needed to achieve the safe climate aim.


Safe Climate Australia - Climate Science