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CCL & The IPCC 1.5 Degrees Special Report

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This training reviews the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C" to examine why it was written, what it tells us that’s new, and how it informs CCL’s work.
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Background on the report

 In 2016, the 195 nations who signed the Paris Agreement asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to study the implications of a 1.5°C global temperature target. Their report, entitled Global Warming of 1.5°C, was released in October 2018.

This report clarifies the benefits of holding the modern-day rise in global average temperature to 1.5°C rather than 2.0°C. It also explores possible pathways to stay within these limits, including the role of carbon pricing, which it says of in chapter 4: "Explicit carbon prices remain a necessary condition of ambitious climate policies."

Some key takeaways:

  • Chapter 1 highlights we now can assess the risks of warming beyond 1.5°C, because some regions have already reached that level and experienced “profound alterations to human and natural systems … linked in turn to rising migration and poverty.”
  • Chapter 3 highlights if warming exceeds 1.5°C, climate risks will increase in magnitude and could possiblyset in motion irreversible changes like polar ice sheet collapse and the loss of all coral reefs. 
  • Staying below 1.5°C requires cutting fossil GHG emissions at least 40 percent by 2030 and near 100 percent by 2050, and will likely also require some removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through extensive reforestation, large-scale agricultural changes, and bioenergy with carbon capture. These measures carry the risk of land use conflict, but the more we overshoot 1.5°C, the more of them we will need. 
Connections with CCL's work

Under any circumstances, high prices on GHG emissions will be necessary to cost-effectively stay below 1.5°C – prices 3 to 4 times higher than those required to stay below 2°C.

The IPCC report underscores the importance of quickly adopting strong carbon pricing. Most importantly, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would cut emissions 50 percent by 2034, a level consistent with the IPCC recommendation for staying below 1.5°C.

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  • Rick Knight
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Rick Knight
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