The science, politics, and communications of 1.5C

Image credit:Tyndall Centre

Our episode will talk about 1.5C – what it means science wise, policy wise,  and communications wise. 1.5C has been one of the most recognised numbers when we talk about climate change. Where did this number come from? The goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is a key aspect of international efforts to address climate change. This target is central to the Paris Agreement.

1.5C has actually been the rallying call of the alliance of small islands states (also called the AOSIS group), backed by scientific evidence from research by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. AOSIS argued that 1.5C would be the safe limit for their countries. In a 1.5C world, many of the deadliest effects of climate change are reduced, especially for small islands and low-lying nations threatened by rising sea levels and storms. In Paris at COP21, 106 countries supported the 1.5C limit, allowing it to be part of the Paris Agreement.

But there has been a lot of discussion about 1.5C in the last months – especially with reports coming out that the global average temperature has breached the target. Last year, 2023, was the hottest year globally since records began in 1850, and 2024 might be warmer, because of periodic influencing by El Nino warming. So it perhaps seems improbable that 1.5C is an achievable target. What does it mean when we breach the 1.5C target?

In this episode, we have Asher Minns, Executive Director of the Tyndall Centre and Manoj Joshi, Professor of Climate Dynamics at the School of Environmental Sciences at the UEA.




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