Saudi Arabia took centre stage at global climate negotiations in Bonn earlier this week, mounting procedural roadblocks to an effort to reduce the target for average global warming from 2º to 1.5ºC.
“The day’s most contentious issue was what to do with the results of a two-year science-based review, completed earlier this year, which basically says government agreements on the 2ºC temperature guardrail are not ambitious enough to protect people and the planet from significant harm,” The Daily Tck reported from Day Eight of the talks.
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“Many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change have long advocated for a 1.5ºC limit, and have proposed a process to build on the review’s results with additional research and consideration. However, such negotiations on how to move forward have been blocked by Saudi Arabia, with support from India and China.”
The debate was triggered by a report  last month from an expert panel convened by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC). “Parties would profit from restating the long-term global goal as a ‘defence line’ or ‘buffer zone’, instead of a ‘guardrail’ up to which all would be safe,” wrote rapporteurs Carl-Friedrich Schleussner and Bill Hare, based on input from more than 70 leading specialists.
“This new understanding would then probably favour emission pathways that will limit warming to a range of temperatures below 2ºC.” The difference matters, they added, because “significant climate impacts are already occurring at the current level of global warming and additional magnitudes of warming will only increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.”