In its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded that to limit temperature increases to 2.0-2.4 degrees Celsius, global emissions must peak no later than 2015. What does a 2 degrees centigrade rise look like? The following excerpt gets at that question, but essentially the answer is that it will look different in different parts of the world. The regional nature of climate impacts raises important ethical questions, many of which inform the focus of the Three Degrees Conference. The excerpt is taken from an interview with IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri conducted by Worldwatch writer Ben Block:
Q: The IPCC makes estimations on how climate change could be limited to increases of 2 degrees Celsius. How do you feel about this limit – is it too high?
A: That really has to be seen in relation to what 2 degrees will do to different places of the world. I think Article 2 of the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change], which essentially highlights the need to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, has to look at “dangerous” in respect to different situations and different regions of the world. You can’t have climate science which is uniformly dangerous for the entire world. If you talk to people in locations that are really dangerous, you get response from those people that they are probably close to a state of danger – if they have not already crossed it.
So this whole issue of 2 degrees versus 1 degree or 1.5 degree is something based on a value judgment that essentially relates to what is dangerous, what is a threshold that would define danger in terms of making it almost impossible for some people on this planet not being able to live in those locations. So it’s difficult to say if it should be 2 degrees or 1.5 or 1, but this is an issue that needs a great deal of discussion or debate. There’s an ethical discussion which should not be ignored at all, and it really hasn’t been brought out in the [climate convention] debates.