In a session on “Enabling Long Term Climate Policy” at the IARU Climate Conference in Copenhagen yesterday, I presented on behalf of the Climate Action Initiative, the team that has formed to use C-ROADS and policy exercises created around it with leaders from government, business and civil society around the world.
Sharing our results and vision in just 15 minutes was a tough challenge. I had to:
(1) Describe the need – the challenge of adding up diverse GHG reduction proposals into a single global emissions trajectory and then calculating the impacts of the trajectory on atmospheric CO2 level and temperature.
(2) Describe C-ROADS and its scientific validity
(3) Share our results – most notably that the current proposals for emissions reduction under discussion by countries around the world seem unlikely to achieve the goal of avoiding the most dangerous consequences of climate change.
(4) Make the case that while we are not on track as a global society we could be – that immediate and serious reductions in emissions could allow us to achieve widely accepted goals for CO2 level and temperature.
Quite a lot of very significant information to pack into 15 minutes – and really the time didn’t do justice to the seriousness of the message. But I made sure to articulate my final conclusion clearly and firmly:
When it comes to achieving widely accepted climate goals – such as stabilizing CO2 levels at 350-450 ppm and limiting temperature increase to no more than 2 °C – the global dialogue is not on track. It’s not on track but it could be – there is nothing in the climate system itself to prevent us from the objective of handing future generations a planet with a stable climate.
Getting on track, I said in the talk, will require many kinds of change – a new mobilization, a new politics, a new kind of global co-operation, a new level of technological innovation and, most importantly of of all new thinking – about ourselves, the future, and what is possible.
The slides I used (as a pdf file) are here: CAI Presentation-Copenhagen, March 2009