1.5°C: To Be Or Not To Be?

ECO congratulates the IPCC for its recent Scoping Meeting for the Special Report on 1.5°C. When finished, it will be a highly important and visible scientific report. Its repercussions will be felt for generations to come. Although CAN experts were not invited, ECO appreciates that the IPCC did invite experts from a cross-section of disciplines, including practitioners, social and political scientists and sub-national actors.

There is no doubt that we will need to undergo massive transformational changes to our economy and society if we are to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This Special Report must be the lightning rod that signals the opportunities and risks of a 1.5°C temperature limit, as well as a guiding star on the pathway towards 1.5°C. At present, we are off course. Scientists need to grab the bull by its horns and elaborate clearly on the plethora of benefits related to phasing out all human carbon pollution by 2050 at the latest, starting with transforming our global energy sector into a 100% renewables one. They need to explore all sustainable policies, such as maximising the recycling of obsolescent equipment or ending deforestation and chemical (and emission) intensive agriculture, in order to render the land use sector a global contributor to protecting the climate. Scientists must also make it very clear that without significant growth in clean investment and financial support (both public and private) for developing nations, fast global decarbonisation won’t get off the ground. Shifting the trillions away from all fossil fuels is crucial to avoiding climate havoc beyond 1.5°C.

ECO welcomes that this Special Report will not only address scientific, technological and economic factors, but first and foremost consider the ethical, equity and sustainable development dimensions of a 1.5°C world. Transparency in the underlying assumptions used in the modelling of pathways will help us make the difficult policy choices and trade-offs required for the transformational change the planet needs.

We recognise that current government commitments fall considerably short of even reaching the 2°C goal agreed to in Paris, let alone 1.5°C. However, ECO reiterates the view found in scientific literature that fundamental change in line with social justice is feasible. To do so we need urgent and scaled up actions before 2020, and a significant decline in global emissions during the next decade.

ECO calls on governments to use the Facilitative Dialogue at COP24 in 2018 as a key moment to take stock of where we are, and where we need to be to achieve 1.5°C. The IPCC Special Report, which will be on the table there, will be crucial to those deliberations. Governments must emerge from that dialogue with clear intentions to upwardly adjust their commitments for both pre-2020 and in their NDCs, to put the world on a secure path to limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Parties will discuss the outcomes of the IPCC Scoping Meeting at the upcoming IPCC Plenary meeting in Bangkok. We sincerely hope that all Parties agree to the recommendations made in the approach and content of the Special Report in 2018 This will mobilise governments, businesses and citizens around the world to act with urgency to secure a safe future for all, especially for the most vulnerable. While we are not naïve, and understand that even a 1.5°C world has dire impacts on people and nature. We also know that living in a 1.5°C will mean the difference between life and death for many millions of people.

In the end, as with all issues, this is not a question of science or technological ability. It is a question of the power of the incumbents. But where there is a will, there is a way.