Climate change: The world’s 1.5°C goal is slipping out of reach – so now what?

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Scientists say it is still theoretically possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but realistically that now seems practically impossible. Should we admit our failure and double down on holding warming below 2°C?



Environment



7 June 2022

Houses and glacier

Houses in Ilulissat, Greenland, near the Jakobshavn glacier

Ashley Cooper/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

For almost a year, climate scientists have sounded one clear message. The world’s totemic goal of holding average global temperature rises to 1.5°C is still technically within our grasp, but will slip without a dramatic course correction by humanity.

“Unless there are immediate, strong, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach,” said climate scientist Valérie Masson-Delmotte last August, launching the first of three landmark reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change …

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