COP21: Support for 1.5 °C Target Continues to Grow

December 6, 2015 | 00:00
COP21: Support for 1.5 °C Target Continues to Grow
COP21: Support for 1.5 °C Target Continues to Grow
One of the hot issues on during the COP21 negotiations is whether to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 or 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Especially countries vulnerable to climate change such as the Small Island States demand the world will make the effort to limit warming to 1.5 °C.

“While 2 °C will protect most people, most countries and most ecosystems, it will not protect all. If we want to protect all than the temperature target needs to be 1.5 °C. The difference between 1.5 °C and 2 °C is roughly a 100 million people falling through that crack”, said Saleemul Huq of ICCCAD at the Climate Action Network press conference on the second day of COP21.

At the start of the climate negotiations a total of 104 countries supported the 1.5 °C goal. Together they account for “about 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 23% of global population in 2010”, according to Climate Analytics. With recent support for the 1.5 °C goal from Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru the number of countries has now risen to 112. For a complete overview of supporting countries check the interactive map of

Well below 2 °C

A small victory was also visible in the latest draft agreement of 5 December. Although 1.5 °C is still between brackets indicating it is still subject to debate, the brackets around 'well' in 'well below 2 °C' have been removed. Which of the two formulations will make it into the final text will be part of the negotiations on the ministerial level during the second week of the climat conference.

5 December draft text:
To hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well below 2 °C] above pre - industrial levels by ensuring deep reductions in glo bal greenhouse gas [net] emissions.

4 December draft text
Hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well] [below 2 °C] above pre - industrial levels by ensuri ng deep cuts in global greenhouse gas [net] emissions

2013-2015 Review

But the 1.5 °C supporters also received a blow with the collapse of the 2013-2015 Review on December 3. The Review group did a three year investigation into the science of climate change to see if there is a need to strengthen the goal of below 2 °C to 1.5 °C, Sven Harmeling of CARE explained in a press conference of Climate Action Network.

The report makes substantial recommendations to stay below 2 °C, calling it 'a defense line' we need to stay under as much as possible. Because for the most vulnerable countries and people 2 °C is simply not safe, Harmeling added.

The discussion on the table was how the Review should be included into the COP. One proposal was a procedural conclusion, which means the COP will simply be notified that the Review has taken place. Another option was a procedural conclusion plus a 4-paged document with the main recommendations of the Review being send forward to the Highlevel Meetings at Ministerial level. Most countries supported the second proposal but the Arab group led by Saoudi Arabia blocked it, said Harmeling.

At a special ministerial session on 4 December of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a platform for countries vulnerable to climate change, Emmanuel M. de Guzman, Climate Change Commission head and chief of the Philippine Delegation to the UNFCCC said about the collapse of the Review: “Our resolve has become even stronger after this meeting. The movement for a safe future is unstoppable. Countries denying science and reason will have to face the growing number of countries and citizens calling for the 1.5 °C target to be reflected in the Paris agreement.”

Image: Interactive map of countries supporting the 1.5 °C target. Source:
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