ECO would like to remind developed countries that an agreement to keep global warming below 1.5°C is a must, so that devastating climate impacts can be largely avoided. So far, the average global temperature has risen by about 0.8°C–and we are already witnessing unprecedented damages!
In just the last 5 years, thousands have died and millions more have been affected by unprecedented extreme weather events, such as drought in the Eastern Horn of Africa and the Sahel region; Hurricane Sandy in the USA; typhoons in the Philippines (such as Haiyan); Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu; and recent floods and heat waves in India.
Having seen the devastation from 0.8°C warming so far, ECO wonders: Can we even bear nearly double the current temperature rise in a 1.5°C world?
In reality, the impacts of increasing temperatures will not be linear. The impacts in a 1.5°C world will be far worse than double the intensity of those that we are currently experiencing. What will happen at 2, 3 or 4°C is unimaginable. In light of this, ECO would like to reiterate three fundamental points as we finalise the climate deal:
1. Lags in climate systems
Scientists say that even after CO2 and other greenhouse gases stabilise, surface air temperatures and sea levels are projected to continue rising for another century or more. This means that even if we achieve the target of 100% renewable energy by 2050, further impacts on people and ecosystems will continue beyond the end of the century.
2. Loss and damage is beyond adaptation
Inadequate mitigation and insufficient adaptation have already brought us to the era of loss and damage. In spite of this, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) was placed under the Cancun Adaptation Framework.
In the Paris agreement, loss and damage must be recognised separately from adaptation. Institutions like WIM will be required to generate knowledge and develop strategies to address new challenges. Developed countries must compensate and commit to providing financial and technical support to implement solutions.
3. Pivot for climate action
For decades, developed nations neither adequately reduced emissions at home nor provided sufficient resources to developing countries to transform energy systems and build resilience.
Future mass-scale litigation by developing countries at the International Court of Justice is not out of the question. Compensation for the losses and damages caused by developed nations´ inaction is a tool to hold those at fault accountable. It will also drive action on mitigation, while providing timely resources for adaptation to reduce loss and damage.