(2016-08-22)The feasibility of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C will play a major role in the special report set to be prepared by the UN's climate science panel in the wake of the Paris Agreement.
Following the inclusion in the Paris deal of a commitment for governments across the world to "pursue efforts" to limit temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is scheduled to release a report in 2018 on the impacts of achieving this goal, alongside proposals on how it could be done.
In an IPCC meeting Geneva last week designed to launch the study and draft the structure of the report, six themes emerged, including the feasibility of the 1.5C goal.
"One notion that runs through all this, is feasibility," Dr Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, told delegates at the conference, according to reports from Carbon Brief. "How feasible is it to limit warming to 1.5C? How feasible is it to develop the technologies that will get us there? [...] We must analyse policy measures in terms of feasibility."
Speaking to Reuters on Thursday Thelma Krug, a Brazilian scientist who led the four-day meeting, said the report will also cast the fight against climate change as part of a wider struggle to end poverty and ensure sustainable growth. "Rapid changes are needed for [no rise above] 1.5C," she said.
However, with average global temperatures in the first half of this year already having hit 1.3C higher than the pre-industrial era - while spiral graphs recently published by a research group from the University of Melbourne demonstrate how close the world already is to 1.5C warming - many of the scientists involved are making clear they harbour no mistaken beliefs about the achievability of that goal.
"The biggest reason this meeting is happening is not out of a deluded sense that we're on a likely trajectory toward 1.5C," Katharine Mach, director of science for the IPCC's group focusing on climate impacts, told Pacific Standard on Tuesday. She suggested the report will instead focus on setting out how "there is dangerous climate change at 1.5C, and that we're already seeing impacts."
The conclusions of the IPCC panels last week will now have to be formally approved by a wider IPCC meeting in October.