Forging an Ambition Pathway to 1.5ºC

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, released recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has sounded a global alarm bell.

Its message is clear – collectively, we are not doing nearly enough to confront the greatest threat humankind has ever faced. Science is telling us that we have entered a frightening new era, and we know that we will face mounting challenges beyond changes to the environment. Our health, our prosperity and our very security are at risk.

It tells us that the goals of the Paris Agreement are not yet out of reach, but to achieve them will require a realignment of our priorities and an unprecedented global mobilisation to deliver much stronger Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in line with the 1.5-degree target and a universal commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.

This is the only rational response to this report. Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama says that the 1.5 Report must put an end to even the slightest denial within the ranks of his fellow national leaders of where the world needs to go from here — a rapid transition to net-zero economies, and a much greater effort to build resilience to the impacts of global warming and to mobilise the funding to pay for it. “This denial is as dangerous as a denial of the science itself,” he says.

To achieve this, together we must forge a new pathway toward achieving the 1.5-degree target, which will require urgently raising our collective ambition.

This pathway began at the Global Climate Action Summit and Climate Week last month, where we saw the groundswell of action that is taking place in the real economy. We saw amazing examples of the technology, the ingenuity and the innovative financing that is already being deployed to allow people at all levels of economic development to live better lives while producing fewer greenhouse gases. We highlight a small sample of these stories in this newsletter.

But now, the path forward must wind its way through the formal climate negotiations.

At the One Planet Summit, Fiji and the Marshall Islands announced their commitment to strengthened NDCs by next year and net-zero emissions by 2050. The world needs to follow their lead and “aim lower” through their national plans to reduce emissions. Every country should implement existing climate policies and, by 2020, consider raising the ambition of their NDCs and come forward with long-term low emission development strategies, including pathways consistent with the Paris Agreement to reach net-zero emissions.

They will have the opportunity to jump start this process of raising collective ambition at the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24 in Poland, where countries must come fully prepared to take on the decisions, commitments and hard work necessary.

From there, the ambition pathway will carry forward into 2019 all the way to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, which provides a unique opportunity for countries to step up and respond to the urgency of the 1.5 Report.