January 24, 2016
by Thomas Storck
Last year was a big one for the climate. Not only was 2015 the warmest year on record, we also witnessed the first universal agreement on climate change, negotiated at COP21, the global climate change talks held in Paris last December. The agreement includes a global warming limit of “well below 2°C”, with “efforts” to limit it to 1.5°C. Chinese President Xi Jinping said of the conference, “It is not a finish line, but a new starting point.” While his tone was optimistic, the language is tough to swallow and leaves many of us wondering why it took 21 years to arrive at the beginning. Meanwhile, our “safe threshold” for global warming has proven to be lower than predicted and our goals and policies remain so disconnected that it’s hard to discern what options remain at our disposal. So it begs the question: how much time do we have left to make the changes necessary to avoid catastrophe and what should be prioritized?