A 1.5ºC limit on average global warming is needed to “avoid or reduce substantial risks that would otherwise be experienced at 2ºC,” according to an expert panel convened by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC).
The review “essential confirms the views” of small island states and less-developed countries that the 2ºC target is too high, Climate Analytics reports.
“Parties would profit from restating the long-term global goal as a ‘defence line’ or ‘buffer zone’, instead of a ‘guardrail’ up to which all would be safe. This new understanding would then probably favour emission pathways that will limit warming to a range of temperatures below 2ºC,” wrote rapporteurs Carl-Friedrich Schleussner and Bill Hare, based on input from more than 70 leading specialists.
“In the very near term, such aspirations would keep open as long as possible the option of a warming limit of 1.5ºC, and would avoid embarking on a pathway that unnecessarily excludes a warming limit below 2ºC.”
That matters, Schleussner and Hare write, because “significant climate impacts are already occurring at the current level of global warming and additional magnitudes of warming will only increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.” While the world is not even on track to hit the 2ºC target, 1.5ºC is still within reach, they say. 2°C “is still feasible and will, while posing substantial technological, economic and institutional challenges, bring about many co-benefits.” (h/t to Canada’s Climate Action Network for pointing us to this story)