G20 + 1.5C + 350ppm

These three cryptic numbers are worth reflecting on as the world’s most powerful leaders gather for their G20 summit meeting in Hangzhou, China on Sunday 4 September 2016. The day before this G20 meeting, China joined the US and ratified the Paris climate agreement. This joint commitment from the world’s super-polluters is a big step towards turning the Paris climate agreement into reality. It may also encourage other major emitters of CO2 to ratify the negotiated attempt to prevent the global average temperature from rising beyond 1.5C above the pre-industrial norm. The U.S. and China together comprise 40 percent of world emissions, their ratification makes it very likely for the agreement to come into force this year.

Analysts warn that the target of keeping temperature rises below 2C is already in danger of being breached. For 14 consecutive months meteorologists have recorded the hottest month on record, and the UK’s Met Office has forecast that 2016 is likely to hit temperatures 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.

The 350.org movement regards the Paris agreement as unlikely to achieve even the lowest projected CO2 concentrations projected by the IPCC that would limit warming to 1.5C. This global grass roots initiative sees 350 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 as the upper limit required and already CO2 concentration are above 400 ppm.

This report in Sept 2016 sets out the facts about the impossibility of limiting global warming to 1.5C given the present trajectory of fossil fuel extraction and use.

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