The European Commission as a whole and a number of its Member States individually have adopted a stringent long-term target for climate policy, namely that the global mean temperature should not rise more than 2 °C above pre-industrial times. This target is supported by rather thin arguments, based on inadequate methods, sloppy reasoning, and selective citation from a very narrow set of studies. In the scientific literature on "dangerous interference with the climate system", most studies discuss either methodological issues, or carefully lay out the arguments for or against a particular target. These studies do not make specific recommendations, with the exception of cost-benefit analyses, which unanimously argue for less stringent policy targets. However, there are also a few "scientific" studies that recommend a target without supporting argumentation. Overall, the 2 °C target of the EU seems unfounded. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.