Editorial: 1.5°C target can be reached

Photo: Statkraft/flickr.com/cc by-nc-nd

In April 2014, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that presented a scenario for a pathway on how to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. The report says that to have a likely (more than 66%) chance of achieving this target by 2050 a global reduction in greenhouse gases of more than 90 per cent compared with 2010 emissions must be achieved. 

For any temperature rise above 1.5°C the IPCC expects negative consequences for mankind and ecosystems due to climate change, e.g. in food production and in marine, arctic and high-mountain ecosystems (see article on IPCC WG II on page). But the chair of the IPCC working group III explained to the public “that it doesn’t cost the world to save the planet”. He is referring here to the conclusion of the IPCC WG III report that diverting hundreds of billions of euro from fossil fuels into renewable energy and efficiency savings would cost just 0.06 per cent of the expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3–3 per cent. The report was written by 1,250 scientists and experts and approved by 194 governments.

The IPCC report judges renewable energy sources as the most favourable solutions, due to falling costs and large-scale deployments of these technologies in the last decade. Nuclear energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies are by contrast judged by the IPCC to have considerable safety, waste management, technological and financial risks.  

The instruments for mitigating climate change exist and have been tested (see article on front page), and now these instruments must be introduced worldwide and sharpened so that they contribute to keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.

The 1.5°C target is already supported by more than 100 countries. Climate Action Network International, a coalition of more than 900 NGOs worldwide, is campaigning to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C, to reduce emissions from fossil fuels by 100 per cent globally by 2050 and to obtain 100 per cent of energy from renewable energy sources worldwide by 2050.

CAN argues that responsible governments understand now that climate action is the key to long-term security and stability. CAN says that “this year they have the opportunity to show that they will not withhold the benefits of climate action from their people and adopt therefore: 

  • Firm commitments for deeper cuts in carbon pollution under the Kyoto Protocol now.
  • Determined leadership towards a globally coordinated approach to more broadly and speedily deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.
  • Utmost flexibility in negotiations aimed at making every nation’s ‘nationally determined contributions’ for the 2015 global climate agreement – due by the end of March 2015 – comparable.
  • Making those national contributions meaningful by ensuring they feature convincing targets to reduce carbon pollution while providing money to help poorer countries take climate action as well.
  • Real solidarity, ensuring the agreement includes provisions to help the most vulnerable communities adapt to climate impacts already being experienced and to account for the loss and damage caused by them.” 

Reinhold Pape

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