A member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has mentioned in a Climate Change Responses editorial that the official global target of a 2°C temperature rise is “utterly inadequate” for saving those who are at maximum risk from climate change. There was a two-day discussion at the Lima Conference of the Parties (COP) regarding the likely consequences of accepting an average global warming target of 2°C. The discussions were part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ‘structured expert dialogue’ in December 2014.
The target was called as scientifically meaningless and politically unachievable by US climate analysts David Victor and Charles Kennel, back in October. Now, Petra Tschakert of Penn State University in University Park, who has been involved in a UN review of the target, has denounced the target as “utterly inadequate.” She believes in a target of 1.5 °C instead. She says that in order to restrict the sea level rise to less than a meter, to protect half of all coral reefs and to still have some ice during Arctic summers, this lower limit is necessary. A huge support for a revised 1.5 °C target was witnessed at an expert meeting during the climate conference in Lima, Peru, last December, as part of the UN’s target review. The review will be published in June and could be adopted at the Paris climate negotiations this December which will decide new emissions limits for after 2020.
Hans-Otto Pörtner of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremen, Germany, an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, warned that for some species it would be difficult to cope with the speed of 2 °C warming, however, under 1.5 °C, most organisms should be able to move to a different place. Another IPCC author and a climate scientist at Reading University, UK, Nigel Arnell, said that the target of 1.5 °C is simply not well researched. Arnell added “The extra benefits are tricky to establish. The science isn’t there yet. Nobody says 2 °C is safe. It is an arbitrary threshold, but so too would be 1.5 °C.”
Tschakert concluded “The crux of the matter is no longer about the scientific validity of one temperature target over another… It is first and foremost about overcoming deeply entrenched divisions on value judgments, responsibility, and finance… It is about acknowledging that negative impacts of climate change under a 0.8°C temperature increase are already widespread, across the globe, and that danger, risk, and harm would be utterly unacceptable in a 2°C warmer world, largely for ‘them’ – the mollusks, and coral reefs, and the poor and marginalized populations… even if this danger hasn’t quite hit home yet for ‘us’.”