In Copenhagen in 2009, the international community agreed to limit global warming to no more than two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Since then, a growing body of research has shown that 2°C is too much. Consequently, in Paris in 2015 the international community agreed to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’. If current climate policies around the world continue, though, the expected result will be around 3.6°C warming. If we factor in the current pledges or promises governments have made, assuming they will all be met, global warming would still be likely to reach around 2.8°C.
As things stand, then, the international community does not appear to be prepared to take the measures necessary to limit global warming even to 2°C. This is profoundly shocking, given that any sacrifice involved in taking those measures is far overshadowed by the catastrophes we are likely to face if we do not: more extinctions of species and loss of ecosystems; increasing vulnerability to storm surges; more heatwaves; more intense precipitation; more climate related deaths and disease; more climate refugees; slower poverty reduction; less food security; and more conflicts worsened by these factors.
So there is an urgent need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases much more quickly than is currently projected. There is also an urgent need to adapt to the global warming that can’t now be prevented, and especially for rich countries to help other countries to adapt and develop in low carbon ways. Global Climate Change Week (GCCW) aims to encourage academic communities – including academics, students, and professional staff at universities – to contribute more to ensuring that these needs are met.