Limiting global warming by 2°C compared to pre-industrial times is a goal heard around the world. From CNN to climate policy negotiations. It was even endorsed by the Copenhagen Report issued by the 15th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2009.
But, several countries and scientists say this target just isn’t enough. Many countries are calling for the target to be revised during the ‘2013-2015 Review.’
Petra Tschakert of Penn State University in University Park writes in a recent article that the target should be at 1.5°C.
“Without a doubt, it is in the utmost interest of a large number of countries to pursue the 1.5°C target, as ambitious or idealistic it may appear to date, and to see it anchored as a binding goal in the next agreement, as a possible outcome of the 2013–2015 Review,” writes Tschakert.
Caribbean countries and other island states are especially critical of the 2°C target. They believe such a rise threatens the very existence of their countries. Even a 1.5°C target is seen as problematic. You can’t blame them. Any rise in oceans due to global warming will affect them first.
A 2°C target has been preached for years. Any change will be met with resistance from multiple areas. First, the economic toll. Any drastic changes to current environmental policy will cost. The wealthy countries don’t want to pay, and the poor countries can’t afford to.
Next, is the science behind it. Study after study has used the 2°C target. New studies will need to be commissioned to look at the 1.5°C target. Obviously, lower temperature rises is better – but politicians will want to see the science back it.
Is a 1.5°C target even realistic? I doubt it. It’s like pulling teeth to get countries to agree on steps towards a 2°C. A 1.5°C target in today’s world of geopolitical flashpoints popping up everywhere? Yeah, not going to happen.