1.5 °C Temperature Limit
Head of Climate Science & Impacts
7 October 2018
CA quoted in New York Times article: Why Half a Degree of Global Warming is Big Deal
From Paris to the Special Report on 1.5°C and Beyond
The publishing of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 in 2018 was a monumental moment. Over a hundred Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and many others have been calling for keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C. From before Copenhagen in 2009 to the victories in 2015 Paris Agreement, where the 1.5°C limit was placed alongside the legally binding goal to hold global temperatures “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” those first affected by the impacts of climate change have been fighting inside and outside of the political ring for half a degree for over a decade.
The Special Report on 1.5 “shows clearly the far-reaching and severe impacts of climate change beyond 1.5˚C – from the loss of Arctic sea ice to the demise of tropical coral reefs, and rapidly escalating risk of climate extremes. Exceeding 1.5°C means very grave risks for people and vulnerable systems around the globe,” said Dr Carl Friedrich-Schleussner, Head of Science and Impacts.
Why 1.5?- Impacts Science, Risk, Vulnerability
In a world 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, climate impacts will be felt throughout many human and natural systems; and even more so in a 2 degree world. However, these impacts are not evenly distributed, with vulnerable regions and countries bearing the brunt of the additional impacts between 1.5 and 2˚C (Schleussner et al. 2018). Limited warming to 1.5 degrees could prevent major yield losses in the tropics and subtropics, allow for potential ecosystem adaptation for coral reefs, and reduce sea-level rise by 30%, among other sectoral benefits (Schleussner et al., 2016).
Scientific Publication: 21 April, 2016 “Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5 °C and 2 °C”
Scientific Publication: June, 2017 "In the observational record half a degree matters"
Scientific Publication: October, 2018 "1.5°C Hotspots: Climate Hazards, Vulnerabilities, and Impacts"
Blog: 20 November, 2018 Small Islands and 1.5°C- A Special Issue in Regional Environmental Change
Blog: 27 August, 2018 "Hot, dry or flooded - more weather extremes beyond 1.5°C warming"
Keeping Warming Below 1.5- What will it take?
With all of the talk of limiting global warming to 1.5, there is also a lot of work being done on how to achieve this. It would take coordinated action from all countries and across sectors, especially the heaviest emitters. It includes ambitious national-level targets and ensuing action in line with, and often more stringent than, what is dictated in the Paris Agreement.
You can find a selection of CA’s resources on pathways for 1.5 and technical requirements to meeting these pathways below.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently published its Special Report on 1.5°C (SR15) to guide implementation of the Paris Agreement. Governments are tasked with developing long-term low emission sustainable development strategies (LT-LEDS) in line with the 1.5°C goal, and are invited to submit them by 2020. This briefing lays out the key findings of the IPCC SR15 that inform governments in their task to develop and submit LT-LEDS, and inform the continuous scaling up of near- and mid-term action and targets, including in Nationally Determined contributions (NDCs), in line with the ratcheting-up mechanism enshrined in the Paris Agreement.
Scaling up climate action in the European Union: Key opportunities for transitioning to a zero emissions society
The European Union‘s targets and policies are not yet compatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. This report, the second country assessment in the Climate Action Tracker's Scaling Up Climate Action Series, analyses areas where the European Union could accelerate its climate action. The report illustrates GHG emissions reductions from such actions, along with other benefits.
Paris Tango. Climate action so far in 2018: individual countries step forward, others backward, risking stranded coal assets
The Climate Action Tracker has updated assessments of 23 of the 32 countries whose development on climate action it tracks.
While some progress has been made since November, most governments’ policies are still not on track towards meeting their Paris Agreement commitments, many of which are in themselves far from sufficient to keep warming to the agreed 1.5˚C warming limit. The Climate Action Tracker's assessments point to an urgent need for governments to scale up both their policies and targets to bring them more in line with a pathway to limiting warming to 1.5˚C.
This week, climate finance – funds for developing countries to enable low-emission and climate-resilient development – takes center stage as political leaders discuss how to ramp up climate ambition at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. What role can investments and finance for mitigation and adaptation play, in particular for the most vulnerable countries?