How can we meet the 1.5C target and what are the consequences if we don’t
We are currently not on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global warming to 1.5°C or even well below 2°C. What could be the long-term changes in regional and global climate and what could be the implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services and water resources in Europe be if we exceed these targets? What role can a timely coal phase-out play in getting the world on track to limiting warming to 1.5°C? What technological, social and institutional innovation policies are needed to avoid these impacts and limit global warming to 1.5°C?
We tried to answer these and many more questions. On Thursday, 13 December 2018, together with the EU-funded projects CARISMA and HELIX, as well as the think tank Climate Analytics, DEEDS hosted the COP24 side-event “How can we meet the 1.5°C target and what are the consequences if we don’t”. The event was one of the best attended during the 2-week long conference.
The event highlighted the critical importance of meeting the 1.5°C target, as Professor Richard Betts presented research from the HELIX project on the impacts of climate change at 1.5°C, 2°C and 4°C global warming, including on water availability, river and coastal flooding, food insecurity and human heat stress. Dr. Bill Hare further reminded the audience that under current policies we are not on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and he shared modeling carried out by Climate Analytics on how the EU can get to zero emissions. Offering more detail on what type of mitigation technologies, R&I measures and policies the EU should implement and how to scale these up, Emilie Alberola (EcoAct) presented some of the key findings of the CARISMA project. Finally, Zoi Vrontisi (E3 Modelling) shared some preliminary findings of DEEDS, a project that aims to deliver state-of the art knowledge on decarbonisation pathways and facilitates knowledge co-creation with policy, business representatives, scientists, NGOs and other stakeholders.
Moderated by the World Future Council, the presentations, discussions between the panelists and lively Q&A session contained a wealth of information, which cannot be comprehensively reported here. However, a few recurring issues throughout presentations and discussions can be distilled: under current policies and trajectories, we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement and this will have devastating impacts on societies and economies; rather than being a theoretical issue of future concern, climate impacts are already felt today in many places around the world; a wide-range of policies and R&I measures will need to be implemented to stave off the worst consequences of climate change, including carbon pricing and a rapid widespread coal phase-out; there is a clear need to bridge knowledge gaps, where they exist, between policymaking and scientific research; throughout all of this, the socio-economic impacts of climate mitigation and decarbonisation polices should always be factored in, ensuring a “just” energy transition that leaves no one behind.