‘1.5 degrees’. Pipe dream? Or possible?
Eva Bishop, Communications Director
Right now, the international agenda is to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees above 1990 levels. To keep it ‘within reach’. Another of the UK’s targets aims to ‘reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050’. But ask yourself this: how much confidence do you have right now in our Government’s commitment to treat climate change like the emergency it is? How close do you think we are to breaching 1.5 degrees already?
From where I’m sitting, in the relatively unscathed UK, the natural world’s response appears to be challenging this ambition and suggests to me we should be considering 2 degrees a minimum realistic goal, and that we ought to be alerting people just how uninhabitable various parts of the globe will become.
But people have been rising up against climate inaction for years. Youth movements have a staggeringly strong voice, so surely it’s high time for some climate truths from our Government. From what I have read, we are already years over a carbon budget that would limit heating to 1.5 degrees. I can’t help but realise that we are breaching Earth’s vital tipping points that scientists have been warning about for over a decade.
As a science communicator and climate activist, I want others to hear how wrong the messaging is around climate policy and how the rhetoric is failing. So I went straight to the horse’s mouth, organising a conversation with none other than Dr Peter Kalmus, NASA Climate Scientist and vocal advocate of urgent and transformative change.
Peter has written the climate best seller, ‘Being the Change; live well and spark a climate revolution’, has started a number of climate-related initiatives including the lighthearted-with-serious-undertones ‘climate beers’ over in the States, giving people space to share their climate emotions, and I’ve also had the pleasure of working directly with him on a climate action app encouraging more personal responsibility and action on emissions reductions. Peter goes by the Twitter handle @climatehuman and within social media has been, as long as I’ve known him, screaming for all he is worth about the woeful inaction and desperatestate of our planet, asking world leaders to do more, to give up the addiction to fossil fuels and economic growth.
So, with COP26 around the corner I am curious, not to mention mildly terrified, to investigate whether my hunch that 1.5 degrees is physically impossible, is indeed correct. If there is still time, what really needs to happen and by when (if not yesterday)? To what extent is climate action tied to economic stagnation? If 1.5 degrees isn’t achievable, what is the next best goal and how should we frame this to the public, to help inspire action without scaring the world into climate submission? The use of good, accurate communication cannot be overestimated at this stage, we have everything to lose through political spin.
My conversation with Peter will be hosted by Beaver Trust as part of its COP26 initiative. In Conversation With is a new series of provoking conversations with experts, discussing COP’s four ambitious Sustainability Goals.
Peter Kalmus, Being the Change: Available open source thanks to Peter’s generosity and
desire for people to know this important stuff (also available in good bookshops):
Eva is Communications Director for Beaver Trust.
#beavers #beaverbelievers #beavolution
© Eva Bishop 2021.