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Green Dreams
Is the 2C Goal Dead?

It sure seems that way. Scientists have coalesced around the goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, arguing that 2C is a key level of warming that we ought to avoid in order to escape some catastrophic consequences brought on by feedback loops. But new research says the world’s current approach to climate change won’t come close to achieving that goal. The BBC reports:

As part of the attempts to tackle global warming, countries have agreed to submit their national plans to the UN before key talks in Paris in December…So far, 56 governments have published their “intended nationally determined contributions,” or INDCs in the jargon of the UN.

The likes of China, the US and the EU have already submitted their intentions. In this analysis, [researchers at the Climate Action Tracker (CAT)] looked at the plans of 15 countries that between them account for almost 65% of global emissions.

Of those 15 countries examined, nearly half were deemed “inadequate” in their approach towards limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. “It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5 degrees C, beyond reach”, warned one of the researchers.

Moreover, the 2C goal looks to already be a non-starter at this December’s Paris climate summit. Way back in February, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres admitted that the world’s climate pledges did “not get us onto the 2C pathway”, while her counterpart at the EU, Miguel Arias Canete, defended the abandonment of the goal by supposing that “if we have an ongoing process you can not say it is a failure if the [sic] mitigration commitments do not reach 2C.” The German Institute for International and Security Affairs’ Oliver Geden summed things up nicely (or, perhaps more accurately, dourly) this spring, saying “[t]wo degrees is a focal point for the climate debate but it doesn’t seem to be a focal point for political action.”

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