Perpetuating the myth of human ability to control the Earth’s climate, and comparing heavily ‘adjusted’ temperature data to a time when there were few records of it on a global scale to refer to. What could possibly be less than credible there?
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Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C this century is a central goal of the Paris Agreement, says The Conversation / Phys.org.
In recent months, climate experts and others, including in Australia, have suggested the target is now impossible.
Whether Earth can stay within 1.5 degrees C warming involves two distinct questions.
First, is it physically, technically and economically feasible, considering the physics of the Earth system and possible rates of societal change? Science indicates the answer is “yes”—although it will be very difficult and the best opportunities for success lie in the past.
The second question is whether governments will take sufficient action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This answer depends on the ambition of governments, and the effectiveness of campaigning by non-government organizations and others.
So scientifically speaking, humanity can still limit global warming to 1.5°C this century. But political action will determine whether it actually does. Conflating the two questions amounts to misplaced punditry, and is dangerous.
1.5 degrees C wasn’t plucked from thin air
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries in 2015. The inclusion of the 1.5 degrees C warming limit came after a long push by vulnerable, small-island and least developed countries for whom reaching that goal is their best chance for survival.
They were backed by other climate-vulnerable nations and a coalition of high-ambition countries.
The 1.5 degrees C limit wasn’t plucked from thin air—it was informed by the best available science. Between 2013 and 2015, an extensive United Nations review process determined that limiting warming to 2 degrees C this century cannot avoid dangerous climate change.
Since Paris, the science on 1.5 degrees C has expanded rapidly. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2018 synthesized hundreds of studies and found rapidly escalating risks in global warming between 1.5 degrees C and 2 degrees C.
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