The world should agree to limit global warming to just 1.5C instead of the current target of 2C, the United Nations‘ climate chief has said, in remarks that shocked the governments of developed nations.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, said: “Two degrees is not enough – we should be thinking of 1.5C. If we are not headed to 1.5C we are in big, big trouble.”
Scientists estimate that 2C of warming is the limit of safety, beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible. Last December at a UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, all countries reached a consensus on a 2C target, the first time the world’s governments had set a target limit on climate change.
But Figueres said reaching 2C of warming would have a devastating impact, such as sea-level rises that could overwhelm low-lying islands and some coastal nations, and levels of warming in sub-Saharan Africa that could severely damage agriculture.