missing the mark
The goal of limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit — or 1.5 degrees Celsius — is likely out of reach, according to a new United Nations climate report released Monday.
The New York Times reported that humans have already increased global temperatures by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
"Holding warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius," the Times notes, "would require nations to collectively reduce their planet-warming emissions roughly 43 percent by 2030," an unlikely outcome given that "current policies ... are only expected to reduce global emissions by a few percentage points this decade."
Last year, a report in the Lancet medical journal compiled by over 100 doctors and health experts concluded that climate change is "the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century," driving increases in heat deaths, insect-borne diseases, flooding, and wildfires.
Per the Times, the assessment, which was compiled by 278 experts from 65 countries and approved by 195 governments, also offers glimmers of hope by acknowledging the rapid growth of green technology and the slower growth rates of global fossil fuel emissions.
Writing for The Week last year, columnist Samuel Goldman despaired over the idea of international climate negotiations making a substantive difference, writing they "are based on a deeply naive understanding of collective action."
"Apart from the legal dimensions of sovereignty, there is no global agency capable of forcing recalcitrant states to accept obligations they don't choose or enforcing those they fail to meet. Australia won't be invaded because it refused a symbolic commitment to ending coal production," Goldman wrote.