ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Transformative Change for Climate Security

Below the Guard Rail

The “1.5 Degree Report” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes scenarios and potential actions to pull the earth away from the brink of catastrophic climate change. The report’s findings are stark but it shows that there are pathways to achieve climate security. The study nevertheless repeats some common errors in framing the ways forward and does not fully explore the potential for transformative change. Some options from the literature that deserve serious consideration are discussed.

The much-anticipated “1.5 Degree Report” released in October 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides the scientific evidence and knowledge base for limiting the rise in average global temperature to within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (IPCC 2018). The report discusses scenarios to get there within a framework of sustainable development, keeping in mind global poverty levels. Given that average global warming already exceeds 1°C, the scenarios described are stringent and likely to keep average temperatures either below the 1.5°C guard rail or overshoot it and then return below it by the end of the century. According to the report, accumulated emissions alone are not likely to raise global mean temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; thus efforts made now are significant and will contribute to limiting global warming. But by the same token, the remaining carbon space is very small, estimated at 580 GtCO2, compared to the current annual “burn” rate of about 42 GtCO2.

The motivation for the study was the demand from small islands and the poorest nations making up the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP–21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015 in Paris to include a commitment in the final agreement to try to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Countries as varied as Angola, Bangladesh, Palau and the Philippines were at the forefront of political negotiations. With the support of several international non-governmental organisations, they managed to put toge­ther a united coalition with the political savvy needed to counter opposition from high-emitting nations and exporters of fossil fuels (CVF 2015).

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Updated On : 3rd Jan, 2019

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