Six months before the landmark climate conference convenes in Paris, scientists are debating whether Paris will be a “graveyard” for the 2ºC (3.6ºF) target for average global warming that has been a line in the sand for global climate negotiations.
“Six months before world leaders convene in Paris, prospects are fading for a deal that would keep average temperatures below the ceiling,” Reuters reports. “Greenhouse gas emissions have reached record highs in recent years,” and “proposed cuts in carbon emissions from 2020 and promises to deepen them in subsequent reviews—offered by governments wary of the economic cost of shifting from fossil fuels—are unlikely to be enough for the 2C goal.”
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Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), acknowledges that national commitments leading up the Paris talks won’t be enough to achieve the 2ºC target. “You don’t run a marathon with one step,” she says, but post-2025 and -2030 commitments could still meet the goal. “She says governments need to change their attitudes towards a low-carbon economy, based on clean energies such as wind or solar power, that can boost economic growth, cut pollution, and create jobs,” Doyle and Wallace write.
Last month, a UNFCCC panel called for a 1.5ºC target, confirming the view of small island states and less-developed countries that 2ºC is too high. “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,” wrote rapporteurs Carl-Friedrich Schleussner and Bill Hare, based on input from more than 70 leading specialists.
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