By Ian Mannix | 19 September 2023
A new eminent person council on climate change has warned that there is an “alarmingly high” risk the world will exceed the 1.5C warming limit agreed to under the 2015 Paris climate conventions.
The new global body describes this as “overshooting” and says in a news release “We are poised to pass 1.5C,” describing this as “a dangerous time.”
The Climate Overshoot Commission (COC), which was formed in 2022, has made the claims in its first comprehensive report. The COC is chaired by Pascal Lamy, the former Director General of the World Trade Organisation, and Vice President of the Paris Peace Forum, which is the initial host of the new body.
Other commissioners include Kim Campbell (the former Prime Minister of Canada); Muhamed Chatib Basri (the former Minister for Finance in Indonesia); Hina Rabanni (the former Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister); Frances Beinecke (the President Emerita of the World Resources Institute in the US); and Professor Xue Lan (from Tsinghua University in China).
Anote Tong, the former President of Kiribati and Mahamadou Issoufou, the former President of Niger Republic are also eminent members.
The Overshoot Commission has published a 5-part report: “Reducing the Risks of Climate Overshoot,” in which it says “limiting warming to 1.5C remains an essential goal but the risks of overshoot are high and rising.”
“Cutting emissions remains the priority,” the report says. “Because the use of fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change, fossil fuels should be phased out, through national actions coordinated internationally.”
The Commission also places its hopes in carbon capture and storage: “Carbon dioxide’s removal from the atmosphere will be needed. Governance and government support is needed to define and help finance the roll-out of high integrity carbon removal methods.”
It says it offers an “integrated strategy” for reducing the possibility of breaching the Paris agreement’s goals, and “limiting and managing” the risks brought about by overshoot.
“Carbon dioxide removal techniques should be developed and deployed to help achieve net-zero – and, ultimately, net-negative – emissions, balancing the benefits of biological and industrial methods, and enabling them through smart policies and financing.”
The Commission includes representatives from poorer countries as well as those facing the greatest risks from climate change, although no-one yet represents any South American countries or Russia.
It is among the first global body to focus on ensuring that nations’ technology breakthroughs avoid damaging second countries, called “transboundary harm” with a specific focus on geoengineering.
Overshoot: What is geoengineering?
“These ideas are variously known as solar radiation modification or management (SRM), solar geoengineering, or climate intervention. They are for the most part theoretical, contain many uncertainties, and are highly controversial.”
These projects entail reflecting a small portion of incoming sunlight back into space.
The Commission warns that SRM should be approached with “the greatest of caution”.
“Countries should adopt a moratorium on the deployment of solar radiation modification and large-scale outdoor experiments that would carry risk of significant transboundary harm, while expanding research, and pursuing international governance dialogues.”
“The Commission is particularly mindful to avoid any suggestion that SRM could offer an alternative to other forms of climate action, and to oppose premature deployment.”