COP28 gave us something we can work with, but it is not enough
(Context, 19 Dec 2023) Keeping the planet within ‘safe’ warming limits will require dealing with other planetary boundaries being crossed.
As the dust settles on the COP28 climate talks, with a welcome but heavily overdue agreement to shift away from fossil fuels, it’s time to take stock of where we stand on the state of a planet in peril.
The focus in Dubai was to hold alive the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, as breaching this climate boundary is likely to trigger multiple tipping points.
Currently we are following a path to disaster, which would take us to around 2.7C of global warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.
This would not only exacerbate the already-palpable increase in devastating extreme weather events, but it would also represent a perturbation of the climate so extreme that one third of the global population – more than 2 billion people – would be living in regions where average temperatures lie outside the human climate niche.
On current projections, we are likely to breach the ‘safe’ 1.5C limit of warming in the next 10-15 years which will be an unparalleled stress test for our planet.