IPCC 1.5C Report: Not drastic enough?

1.5v2Drastic.  Dire.  PainfulWorse than expected.  That’s how the media greeted last week’s release of the IPCC’s analysis of the impact of a 1.5C vs. 2C degree increase in global atmospheric temperature.

As our blog has analyzed already, the IPCC’s report offers pathways for avoiding some of the climate change consequences likely at a 2C degree rise while at the same time achieving sustainable development outcomes that help achieve climate justice.

But this op-ed in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists challenges the IPCC and argues that the new report didn’t go far enough.

Nobel prize in chemistry winner Mario Molina, 2013 UN Champion of Earth Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and IGSD founder Durwood Zaelke point out several omissions and conclude that “to put it bluntly, there is a significant risk of self-reinforcing climate feedback loops pushing the planet into chaos beyond human control.”

These oversights include:

  • Not accounting for self-reinforcing feedbacks and tipping points, which the authors call “the wildcards of the climate system” and
  • Not discussing the 5% risk that existing levels of climate pollution, in and of themselves, could result in locked in and runaway warming (the “fat tail” risk)

In the end, the op-ed worries that the IPCC’s 1.5C report “may mislead world leaders into thinking they have more time to address the climate crisis” while also pointing out the Churchill-ian challenge before them.