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Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit – a key SDG enabler

Recent observations show that climate change impacts already undermine the ability of developing countries to meet their sustainable development priorities. Limiting warming to 1.5°C, as stated in the Paris Agreement, is intrinsically linked to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We urgently need to recognise and leverage the linkages between these two global frameworks.  
09 February 2018
By now it is clear that climate change is as much an economic problem as it is an environmental one. Rising temperatures slow economic growth and devastating climate-related impacts leave large negative imprints on economic development of developing countries. Most financial instruments that have been proposed in the context of loss and damage do not solve the problems developing countries face.  
COP23 was hosted by a small island state, Fiji, and vulnerable countries thought it was high time to address the issue of Loss and Damage head on. The result from the first ‘islands COP’ is that it is obvious we are not driving in the fast lane however the goals are not out of sight either.  
Presenting a disaster as an ‘opportunity’ is clearly a sensitive and emotive issue. But when an energy infrastructure is in tatters should we not view this as a chance to make a fundamental transition to a low carbon future? When will there be a better opportunity to relocate essential services away from high risk areas than when they need rebuilding? When do we consider what we truly value more than when we have suffered loss?  
Climate extremes, many now bearing human fingerprints, are already causing devastating impacts across the globe, and the time is high for Loss and Damage to be considered in concrete and actionable terms in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. But what are the next steps to really move this issue forward, and in particular what needs to be done at the first “Islands COP” in Bonn?  
Observational records show us that half a degree of warming in the recent past has brought significant increases in extreme weather events, which provides another line of evidence for what an additional 0.5°C of warming could entail.  
The draft outline of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report doesn’t contain an explicit reference to loss and damage but will deal with “residual risks”, “adaptation limits” and “attribution.” Should this outline be adopted at the next IPCC plenary, it would be a missed opportunity to bring the entire spectrum of loss and damage available in the scientific literature into focus and support vulnerable countries in preparing do deal with it.  
In addition to the sixth assessment report and the special report on 1.5°C, the IPCC has two other special reports in the works: one on how climate change impacts land and another on oceans and cryosphere. Both are of great importance to vulnerable countries, like small islands. Although there will not be an explicit reference to the issue of loss and damage, thanks to a strong push by vulnerable countries both outlines now incorporate some of its core components, like climate change attribution, residual risk and adaptation limits.  
In its latest study, Faster and Cleaner 2: Kick-Starting Decarbonization, the Climate Action Tracker looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in key sectors. It turns out that it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations that will be necessary to meet Paris Agreement’s goals.  
Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement with its 1.5°C temperature limit, climate scientists are preparing a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of climate change under 1.5ºC warming in global average temperature. Here’s an overview of what we already know and what we would need to learn from the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C due in 2018 regarding impacts on agriculture.  
The latest Climate Action Tracker report looked at major emitting sectors and at what can be done – and how fast – to come up with a list of the most important things to do in the next decade to bend the emissions curve downwards. Bill Hare and Niklas Höhne talk about some of these key steps and the progress to date.  
The latest Climate Action Tracker report spells out important, short-term steps over the next ten years that key sectors need to take to help the world achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. Here are some of the steps the big sectors can take – and some examples of what is already happening.  
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just approved the outline of the special report on the 1.5°C temperature limit - here's what it will contain.  
A recent research conference in Brussels revealed a range of 1.5°C scenarios derived from a larger variety of climate models. These results are an important milestone in light of the implementation of the Paris Agreement that enters into force on November 4.  
Green makes the world go round – it’s a saying that’s especially apparent here in the hustle of New York. But when the Empire State Building lit up in green to mark the beginning of Climate Week, it signalled a different kind of rush entirely: the rush to ratify the Paris Agreement and for governments, businesses, NGOs, and citizens from all walks of life to take immediate and decisive action on climate change.  
Today the presidents of the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas polluters, China and the US, ratified the Paris Agreement, making the possibility of its entry into force by the end of this year or early next ever more likely.  
Last December in Paris, Australia, along with world governments, agreed to keep warming well below 2˚C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5˚C. What does this mean for Australia’s climate policy and decarbonisation? What would the differences in impacts be for Australia between 1.5˚C and 2˚C of warming?  
Small islands are highly vulnerable to climate change but face severe adaptation constraints. To work towards overcoming some of these constraints, Climate Analytics and partners are initiating an integrated database containing information on climate impact projections, linked to examples of existing adaptation projects and embedded into a vulnerability and impact assessment framework.  
The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of a 1.5°C temperature-increase limit provides key guidance for shaping climate policy globally and nationally. It also serves as a wake-up call for immediate increased climate action if the world is to have a chance to reach the goal. The problem is that effecting real climate change is a long-term process and takes years to see results.  
A report by Climate Analytics and Sitra looks at what the Paris Agreement means for the European Union. It comes to a sobering conclusion: much more needs to be done for EU countries to be in line with the deal struck in December 2015.  
Adaptation to climate change impacts is one of the main areas in the international climate negotiations. Our experts share their views on the challenges to address for successful climate change adaptation planning and implementation.  
When considering what kind of support developing countries will need to implement their climate plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement, let’s not forget that emission reductions offered in current climate pledges are grossly inadequate to meet the objective of the Paris Agreement to keep warming to 1.5°C, and therefore must be ramped up.  
Between December 2014 and February 2016 our experts supported a number of countries in formulating their climate plans ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris. They share three key lessons, which are highly relevant for implementing the Paris Agreement in some of the most vulnerable countries and communities around the world.  
At its latest meeting 2-5 November in Livingstone, Zambia the Green Climate Fund Board strengthened the Fund’s accreditation framework by agreeing on a policy to review every five years to what extent the GCF’s implementing partners’ overall portfolio of activities - beyond those funded by the GCF - have evolved in the direction of the Fund’s goal to promote a paradigm shift. Partners that continue to heavily invest into coal and other fossil fuels are now at risk of loosing their accreditation after their initial accreditation period ends.  
Recently UN experts warned of climate change induced risks to food security. More frequent and intense weather extremes as well as a general rise of mean temperature and sea level will cause this risk to grow. Food security and climate change were high on the agenda at the Tropentag conference, bringing together over 1000 experts to seek solutions to the biggest challenges in tropical and sub-tropical agriculture.  
Fossil fuel divestment started as a grass-roots movement and, as it gains momentum, more and more actors - university campuses, cities, pension funds, banks, to name but a few - commit to move away from investing in coal, oil and gas. Divestment campaigns have been increasing the pressure on governments and institutions in the run up to the upcoming climate summit in Paris but will also play an important role once the expected global agreement to halt climate change is in place.  
Climate Analytics Inc. in New York together with Heinrich Böll Foundation North America hosted a successful event during ‪Climate Week NYC,‬ which focused on the recent report by the German Economic Institute (DIW) on "Decoupling Economic Growth from Fossil Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions" and the results of the INDC analysis work of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).  
The EU ETS reform could lead to an increase in the prices of emissions allowances, which could in in turn stop plans to invest in coal power plants in the EU. The major challenge will now be to reduce emissions in the non-ETS sector, which constitute the majority (57%) of all emissions, such as transport and buildings. To achieve this, member states would need to take much more action to promote improvements in e-mobility, energy efficiency in the building sector an other areas.  
Brazil was a leader in the production of energy from renewable sources, especially in the power sector. However, an increasing reliability on coal- and gas-fired power plants may change this. This may happen despite the renewable energy targets for 2030 announced in June.  
Many eyes will turn to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at the beginning of November when its Board meets to consider proposals for the Fund’s first projects and programmes. This 11th Board meeting will be an important milestone for the success of the Paris climate summit, scheduled to commence on the 30th of November, just a few weeks later.  
From April 22nd to Friday 24th, Climate Analytics organised a workshop on the relation between climate change and economic growth in Africa. It was held in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The workshop took place at AfDB’s headquarter in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).  
The Gambia has embarked on developing its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for submission to the UNFCCC in advance of the anticipated Paris agreement this year. A team from Climate Analytics look at some initial lessons from the process so far.