Furthermore, substantially overshooting 1.5°C of global warming (i.e. by more than 0.1°C) with the intention of reducing warming later is a dangerous option. Such overshooting could already usher in large changes in the climate system and irreversible impacts
, such as the extinction of certain plant or animal species
An ambitious but realistic goal
Since excess CO
stays in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very long time – several hundred or even thousands of years – we need to focus seriously on how to end the use of fossil fuels, i.e. on decarbonisation. Given the lack of climate action in the past 30 years, we need to recognise that a shift towards a decrease of CO
emissions leading to a net-zero budget in 2050 does imply a major shift in paradigm. But does this also imply a lower quality of life, or that this aim is unrealistic? The latest report by the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCCUK) suggests that this is not the case
The CCCUK concludes that the UK, a country at a level of development similar to Switzerland’s, could realistically achieve a net-zero CO
budget by 2050, including emissions associated with shipping and plane travel. The CCCUK estimates that the associated costs would be limited to approximately 1–2% of GDP and that there would be numerous benefits for the economy and individuals, in addition to the avoided impacts of climate change.
There is no controversy regarding the fact that enhanced CO
leads to global warming and climate impacts, and it is widely accepted that we are in a situation of climate emergency
– but there are of course open questions on how reach net-zero CO
emissions. I am convinced that the glacier initiative will foster a healthy debate on the most acceptable solutions to decarbonise our economy and society.