At last year’s global climate talks in Glasgow, world leaders, scientists and chief executives rallied around a call to “keep 1.5 alive.”
The mantra was in reference to an aspirational goal that every government endorsed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement: try to stop global average temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Beyond that threshold, scientists say, the risk of climate catastrophes increases significantly.
Now, 1.5 is hanging on for dear life.
At the United Nations climate summit that is underway in this Red Sea town, countries are clashing over whether they should continue to aim for the 1.5-degree target.
The United States and the European Union both say that any final agreement at the summit, known as COP27, should underscore the importance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
But a few nations, including China, have so far resisted efforts to reaffirm the 1.5-degree goal, according to negotiators from several industrialized countries. Failing to do so would be a major departure from last year’s climate pact and, to some, a tacit admission of defeat.
“When I arrived here, I got a really strong sense of backsliding,” said Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who leads a group of prominent former leaders called the Elders. Along with leaders of nearly 200 of the world’s largest businesses and civil society groups, Ms. Robinson signed a letter urging governments at the climate talks to stick with 1.5 degrees.
One of the many problems of dealing with climate change is that the global community has to agree. And we can’t necessary count on Klattu coming from space to tell all the nations of the world to get its shit together or the universe will destroy this recalcitrant planet.