High profile voices are arguing that the global goal of limiting climate change to 1.5° C is already lost. Yet limiting to 1.5°C is still physically possible and, according to the United Nations (UN), requires a ‘rapid and systemic transformation’ of societies globally.
The growing debate over the prospects for 1.5°C is partly about possibilities for transformation, how societies could handle the severe consequences of reaching and potentially breaching 1.5°C, and how policymaking should change going forward.
Debating this are those who think that the shock of losing 1.5°C could be a wake-up call to stimulate faster change, or that transformational change is clearly not possible and a different strategy is needed, or that mainstream narratives on the possibilities for 1.5°C are still the best motivator for rapid decarbonization.
In all cases, vested interests can exploit these narratives to argue falsely that transformation is not possible or desirable, rapid emissions reductions are not needed, and that vast negative emissions and solar geo-engineering are the primary means by which the world can avoid catastrophe.
This is occurring within the wider context of ‘predatory delay’: the purposeful, decades-long manipulation of narratives on the climate and ecological crisis by those who wish to delay or block transformational change and deter rapid decarbonization and restoration of nature.
Rapid and equitable change is needed to avoid climate and ecological catastrophe but is not yet being delivered under mainstream narratives and policies. Yet alternatives highlighting the growing likelihood of missing the 1.5°C goal come with the risk of being exploited by ‘climate delayers’.
This panel event explores a range of questions:
- What are the best stories to tell about the 1.5°C goal as temperatures continue to rise?
- Which stories can be more honest about the severity of the crisis and better spur transformational change but avoid being exploited by climate delayers?
- How can we ensure that other consequences of the deepening crisis – such as worsening disasters and cascading impacts on food systems – do not derail a rapid, equitable transition?
This event is part of the Cohort 2040 project, which seeks to help millennial and younger generations develop the transformational leadership needed to secure a better world even as environmental destabilization grows.
It is co-hosted with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).