“Now or never” to meet 1.5°C pledge says IPCC
A stark warning from the world’s leading climate scientists: act now or miss crucial Paris 2015 target
The Paris Agreement was a watershed moment. While we’re all in the trenches, making day-to-day sustainable adjustments to our businesses, here was some material put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is movement from our friends in Government: a legally-binding treaty on climate change.
Almost 200 countries and parties adopted the Agreement at COP 21 and we all understood the collective ambition to be the capping of global warming to well within 2 degrees.
Many felt the need to go further. But the acceptable compromise of a 1.5°C increase became the global rallying cry. Cut to COP26 in Glasgow 2021 and the figure of 1.5°C is repeated around the conference.
But time is running out, say the climate scientists
In April 2022 the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) delivered its 3rd and final report in a seven-year trilogy. These reports pull together the work of thousands of climate scientists. The call is to move urgently to a low-carbon economy while the Paris target is still attainable.
And the IPCC conclusion is troubling and clear, despite the many conferences and despite the optimism of Paris. Only if greenhouse gas emissions can be halved this decade, which demands a peak by 2025, can we limit future heating to target levels.
Failure to implement change at the required scale and speed will mean a steady climb in temperature. More than 3°C will translate to disastrous results for the planet.
Of course the challenge for us as society and small business owners is to improve our own sustainability decision-making, while pressuring government and heavy industry to do much better.
Why is 1.5°C so important as a benchmark?
What’s the obsession with this figure? The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) identifies that future climate-related risks depend on the rate, peak and duration of warming.
These risks get larger if global warming exceeds 1.5°C, before coming back down to that level by 2100, than if global warming gradually stabilises at 1.5°C. And the impact increases even further if the peak temperature is higher than 2°C.
At 1.5°C we will see the death of 70% to 90% of the world’s coral reefs. Just one stark example. The quantity of coral dying off climbs to 99% at a temperature rise of 2°C and over.
UN General Secretary Guterres denounces “lying”
Many proponents of a low-carbon economy see the precious opportunity to act is slipping away. This includes UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres. “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing but doing another,” he says, in reaction to the IPCC report.
“Simply put,” Guterres adds, “they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic.”
Lobbying by government appointees delayed publication of the report by several hours, as scientists and officials negotiated to agree to the final wording of the published 63-page report.
The issue is further clouded today by political voices calling for a strategic and temporary embrace of fossil fuels by the West to replace dependency on Russian energy in the short-term.
But the IPCC is unequivocal about the need to curtail greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid the very worst aspects of the unfolding climate crisis.
More specifically, we have just a three-year window to tackle decades of rising emissions and ensure the world’s commitment to 1.5°C proves to be more than political hot air.
Is your small business on its sustainability journey? The stakes are high and yet positive action doesn’t have to cost you time or money.
We can help you do what you do, but brighter. Contact us to get started xxx