At a press conference today in Nairobi, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that it will undertake a special report on the impacts of a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 ºC. This announcement from the IPCC, an international platform for synthesising and communicating climate science, emerged from a request made by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015. The news comes at the end of the 43rd Session of the IPCC, a three-day event held this week in Kenya. Also at that session, the IPCC finalised the work plan for producing its Sixth Assessment Report, or AR6, set to be released in 2022.
Future Earth will support the creation of the special report, which the IPCC will release in 2018, through workshops and other activities. Paul Shrivastava, Executive Director of Future Earth, says:
We’re eager to work with the IPCC on this special report to bring the best science to bear on how nations can feasibly, and fairly, reduce their carbon emissions. We believe that the research community has an important role to play in international efforts to slow the impacts of climate change, but we can only do that by working with policy-makers, businesses and civil society stakeholders.
The 1.5ºC target represents of shift in international policy and science that, for years, focused on curbing warming from climate change at 2ºC. During December's Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, however, United Nations member nations agreed to try to limit temperature rise to a more ambitious target — in part because of a growing recognition that many of the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise and coral reef loss, will ramp up at 1.5ºC, said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee during the press conference.
Still, little research exists to show what a rise of 1.5C would mean for the planet or how nations can realistically meet this goal. Answering those questions will require a concerted effort across the international scientific community — one that Future Earth is ready to support. Wendy Broadgate, Director for Future Earth’s Global Hub in Sweden, says:
The Paris agreement is very ambitious and requires urgent research focused on the 1.5 degree target. Future Earth is catalysing research agendas and mobilising researchers around questions such as decarbonisation, societal transformations and pathways for emissions reductions to inform the IPCC 1.5 degree special report and next assessment.
This August, Future Earth will host a scoping workshop in partnership with the IPCC, the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and the Global Promgramme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA). This event, which is titled “Informing climate change risk management: research needs for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report,” will delve into the questions that scientists will need to address to support the IPCC’s next assessment report. The workshop will run from August 29 to 31 in Stockholm.
Then in September, the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute will host an international conference to examine the 1.5ºC target. This conference, called “1.5 degrees: Meeting the challenges of the Paris Agreement,” will bring scientists and others together to discuss how nations can achieve this target, and whether the benefits will match the costs. The conference is co-organised by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, UK, which hosts the Future Earth regional centre for Europe. The event will run from September 20 to 22 in Oxford. Registration is open now.
You can also learn more about the 1.5 degrees conference here.