Concern for climate change has not yet been integrated in protocols for reserve selection. However if climate changes as projected, there is a possibility that current reserve-selection methods might provide solutions that are inadequate to ensure species' long-term persistence within reserves. We assessed, for the first time, the ability of existing reserve-selection methods to secure species in a climate-change context. Six methods using a different combination of criteria (representation, suitability and reserve clustering) are compared. The assessment is carried out using European distributions of 1200 plant species and considering two extreme scenarios of response to climate change: no dispersal and universal dispersal. With our data, 6–11% of species modelled would be potentially lost from selected reserves in a 50-year period. Measured uncertainties varied in 6% being 1–3% attributed to dispersal assumptions and 2–5% to the choice of reserve-selection method. Suitability approaches to reserve selection performed best, while reserve clustering performed poorly. We also found that 5% of species modelled would lose their entire climatic envelope in the studied area; 2% of the species modelled would have nonoverlapping distributions; 93% of the species modelled would maintain varying levels of overlapping distributions. We conclude there are opportunities to minimize species' extinctions within reserves but new approaches are needed to account for impacts of climate change on species; especially for those projected to have temporally nonoverlapping distributions.