What the post-2015 climate deal should look like

Publish date: April 23, 2015

17 of the world’s top scientists and academics have today launched a joint statement, the ‘Earth Statement’, outlining eight fundamental elements which the post-2015 climate agreement should feature if the world is to have a reasonable chance at halting severe climate change. The document highlights the absolute necessity for the world to become a zero carbon society by 2050. In order to achieve this, three-quarters of all known fossil fuels would need to remain underground and we would need to see a significant boost in governments’ research and development activities into clean energy and mitigation technologies.

Launched on 22 April 2015, celebrated as International Earth Day, the Earth Statement calls on policy makers around the world to mobilise their efforts against climate change and highlights eight key elements which should characterise the post-2015 climate deal.

Firstly, the statement underlines the importance of limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C in order to avoid irreversible damages to the planet’s ecosystems and wellbeing. It also warns that currently we are on a path to around 4°C warming by 2100, and that if we fail to act now, there is even a 1 in 10 risk of exceeding 6°C by 2100. To illustrate the magnitude of damages this would entail for humanity the text explains that “such a 1 in 10 probability is the equivalent of tolerating about 10,000 airplane crashes every day worldwide”.

Reaffirming latest findings of the IPCC and a number of other recent reports, the statement calls for the need to respect the global carbon budget, which in other words, means leaving at least three quarters of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

Attaining deep decarbonisation and a zero-carbon society by 2050 would necessitate the adoption of ambitious national targets, including the setting of carbon price, as well as the possibility to adjust these national targets via regular reviews. Nevertheless, the text also highlights that ‘equity’ should be central to a successful global climate agreement, and that the least developed countries should be granted the right to development.

The document recognises that the unprecedented nature of the climate challenge needs to be matched with unprecedented technological advances.

Director of Bellona’s EU office Jonas Helseth commented on this point: “Despite not explicitly mentioned in the text, Bellona sees the large-scale deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology as imperative in keeping temperature rise within the 2°C threshold. The importance of CCS and negative emissions, attained via Bio-CCS, is acknowledged in the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, which also highlights the risk of mitigation costs more than doubling in the case of failure to deploy the vital technology.”

What is more, in November 2014 the United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE) submitted recommendations to the UN Climate Change Secretariat calling for strong incentives to be provided to CCS within the post-2015 climate agreement.

Among the signatories of the Earth Statement are Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC, Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s most renowned climate scientists, US economist Jeffrey Sachs, and Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist and author of the famous Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.

Bellona has been closely following the evolution of the climate negotiations in the lead up to COP 21 and will continue its efforts in ensuring the ambitious and timely conclusion of the agreement. To read about the status of the climate negotiations and the latest version of the negotiating text click here.

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