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A Radically Realistic Climate Vision

Limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is the only way to achieve social justice while protecting our environment from devastating climate change. And, contrary to prevailing wisdom, it's not an impossible goal.

BERLIN – According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s main scientific authority on global warming, keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is a feasible goal. The IPCC’s stance represents a move in the direction of the kind of “radical realism” that many civil-society actors have long advocated.

The IPCC does not bet on geo-engineering proposals – for example, deep-ocean sequestration of massive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or “dimming the sun” by spraying the atmosphere with aerosols – to combat global warming. These largely theoretical solutions could have untold consequences for people and ecosystems, worsening not only the climate crisis, but also the other social and ecological crises we face.

Instead, the IPCC focuses on how we can avoid crossing the 1.5°C threshold in the first place. We must, it asserts, decarbonize the global economy immediately to ensure that global CO2 emissions decline by about 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

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