A Growing Call for 1.5 Degrees Celsius

Submitted by mcginna on Thu, 12/10/2015 - 03:28

In an earlier post, I discussed the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which is the group of countries that have declared themselves the most vulnerable to climate change. The CVF’s message during this COP is simple and singular. They are calling for the world to agree that global temperature rise shall not exceed (and actually that is well below) 1.5 degrees Celsius. The follow up questions of how this will be possible, who is responsible, and, where will the money come from, are valid questions which the countries are negotiating within their negotiating channels, but that is not the message from the CVF. Other countries have listened. There are now over 100 countries calling for 1.5 degrees Celsius and it appears in the draft text that came out yesterday as one of the three options under Article 2 (the article where the countries agree on the global average temperature rise). At past COPs, I do not think that this group had this kind of power to be heard, but now they do. During conversations with delegates about how the CVF gained this power, they said that the message is very clear and concise and that the science and morals are on their side. They are telling other countries that if they do not agree to 1.5 then they are agreeing to the destruction of entire countries namely the small island states (SIDS). Yesterday at a press conference, Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, shared, many of the head of state left last week, but the heads of state of the SIDS are still here. She continued by saying that when she was president of Ireland she never worried about going home to her country and telling her people that their country would no longer exist in a few years. That thought never crossed her mind. But, that is what these SIDS leaders will have to do if we do not get an ambitious agreement in Paris. They will literally return home and report to their people that the rest of the world did not step up. So, they will not leave the conference until they have pushed as hard as they possibly can for the existence of their country. This is a strong narrative and one that has, in fact, inspired others to take action. Another coalition has been formed called the High Ambition Coalition. 79 countries have joined this coalition including the US and the EU. According to the Guardian, this group is calling for “an agreement at Paris to be legally binding; to set a clear long-term goal on global warming that is in line with scientific advice; to introduce a mechanism for reviewing countries’ emissions commitments every five years; and create a unified system for tracking countries’ progress on meeting their carbon goals.” Saudi Arabia is one country that is strongly against this coalition. The CVF has been working for over six years to get countries to listen to them in these negotiations, and their voices are finally being heard at the COP.