PARIS — More and more voices at the U.N. climate change conference are standing up for at least trying to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than the more commonly cited 2 degrees C.
It’s a dizzying goal: The world is already at about 1 degrees Celsius of warming, with about 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and concentrations growing by around two parts per million per year on average. Recent research suggests that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, concentrations couldn’t exceed about 420 to 440 parts per million by 2100.
The position that 1.5 degrees should be our planetary temperature target has long been held by small island nations and a growing number of developing countries and has now been supported by 108 countries.
Not all countries appear to be on board at this point. Saudi Arabia and India have sought to “block attempts” to make reference, in the final Paris agreement, to a U.N. report that explored the issue of holding warming to 1.5 degrees C, and noted that “limiting global warming to below 1.5 °C would come with several advantages in terms of coming closer to a safer ‘guardrail.
A final decision has not been made on that yet, but there was some very strong resistance from some countries.
Only one thing seems clear: the more the world seriously considers a target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more likely it also is that it will actually stay under 2.
Michel Ouellette JMD