Paris climate talks: 1.5 degree Celsius target still on table

At the conference, the BASIC group said it was very “mindful” of the concerns of island states and other vulnerable countries, which have been asking for a 1.5 degree target for several years.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Paris | Published: December 9, 2015 2:04 am

The goal to keep earth’s rising temperatures to within 1.5 degree Celsius of pre-industrial times, as against 2 degree on which there is greater consensus, got a fresh lease of life Tuesday with the BASIC group of countries saying they had not shut that option out.

At the climate change conference in Paris, the BASIC group, consisting of India, China, Brazil and South Africa, said it was very “mindful” of the concerns of island states and other vulnerable countries, which have been asking for a 1.5 degree target for several years. “This is an issue of concern for them (small island states and others). This is also an issue of concern for Brazil and other BASIC countries. I would like to say that we are actually discussing this matter and I can assure you that we will come with a joint position this issue during this conference,” said Brazil’s Environment Minister Edna Bomo Malewa.

The small island states, which fear being drowned by rising sea levels due to climate change, had met French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the conference, over the weekend to urge him to get the world to agree on a 1.5 degree target. Fabius had supported the idea.

Currently, there is greater consensus around the 2 degree target among the developed world and larger countries because a 1.5 degree pathway will force them to cut greenhouse gas emissions more sharply and take stricter action to shift to a low-carbon economy. The current negotiating text has both 2 degree and 1.5 degree as options for the global goal. But India has been saying that it would not oppose a 1.5 degree target if a consensus builds around it.

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