Earth’s fate now depends on how fast and how strong we implement policy instruments to actually reach the great target of strictly limiting global temperature increase and the resulting climate risks.
In Paris, the COP21 UN climate summit reached an agreement. On this issue, Professor Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK):
“The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen! Reason and moral combined at the COP21 to deliver a historical climate agreement that finally transcends national egotisms. The target of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and aiming at 1.5 degrees is more ambitious than expected, yet fully in line with the scientific risk assessment.
If sincerely operationalized, the Paris agreement will induce the decarbonization of the world economy by the middle of this century. The current emissions reduction pledges (INDCs) of most countries, however, are insufficient and have to be adapted to the new level of ambition in the next few years. Still, this is a turning point in the human enterprise where the great transformation towards sustainability begins.”
Also on this issue, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change:
“The Paris agreement is a breakthrough. Earth’s fate now depends on how fast and how strong we implement policy instruments to actually reach the great target of strictly limiting global temperature increase and the resulting climate risks.
The Paris agreement explicitly acknowledges that the current emission reduction pledges, the so-called INDCs, will lead to increasing global emissions by 2030. Nevertheless, the aspirational goal of staying below 2°C of the Paris Agreement is not consistent with the pledges unless deep emission cuts at rates of about 6 percent per year between 2030 and 2050 are pursued. We need short-term entry points for climate policies that allow emissions to peak well before 2030. However, the institutional mechanisms in the Paris Agreement for emission reduction rates are vague: The monitoring and review process has to be clearly defined.
The Paris Agreement mentions short-term entry points: carbon pricing and carbon markets. The G-20 should elaborate next steps to implement carbon prices. Financing and transfers provide the means to harmonize these carbon prices. Whoever is building more coal power plants, however, is shutting the door to reaching the two-degree-target. We now more than ever need to avoid a global renaissance of coal – so we can transform the treaty into reality, and ultimately a better future for all.”