IPCC: 1.5 Still Alive

13 November 2013

Parties in Doha requested expert advice to ensure the scientific integrity of the 2013-2015 Review. Well, yesterday they got it, fresh from IPCC Working Group I. In the first of two dialogues in Warsaw, IPCC experts provided advice on the adequacy of the 2oC goal in light of the ‘ultimate objective’ of the Convention.

Working Group I confirms what we already knew: warming is unequivocal, human influence is clear, and limiting climate change and its impacts requires substantial and sustained emissions reduction – in fact, down to zero.
But there is good news as well.  The “peak and decline” trajectory of the lowest concentration pathway (RCP2.6) could limit the increase in global mean temperature to 1.5oC and would increase the likelihood of meeting the long term global goal of keeping below 2oC. That’s not easy, but it’s still within reach.

The findings show that even 2oC warming will increase the potential for dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, and delaying emissions reductions would speed the pace and severity of impacts such as sea level rise and storm intensity. The WG I report gives Parties one less excuse to delay or hedge their mitigation commitments and actions up to and beyond 2020.

Working Group II will not release its full report on impacts until March 2014, but it is already evident that failing to reduce emissions quickly means that the ultimate objective of the Convention would not be met: sustainable development, food security and ecosystem adaptation would all be sacrificed. The joint contact group of SBSTA and SBI at COP 19 should advise that Parties' commitments and actions must be tabled at COP 20 and their adequacy must be benchmarked against the IPCC findings.

The second session of the IPCC expert dialogue is at 3 pm today, and it will continue to address findings of the highest importance.

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