Burning through our budget – how long until 1.5°C?
by Chris Smith
Café Scientifique (New Headingley Club, 56 St Michael’s Road, Leeds LS6 3BG) will host a talk by a Leeds University researcher this evening.
In December 2015, the world woke up to the news that a ground-breaking international deal on climate change been agreed. This was impressive enough, but what caught experts by surprise was the ambition demanded: to keep global temperature rise to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and [to persue] efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”.
In April 2016 the UN commissioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to produce a report in 2018 outlining the feasibility and challenges of meeting this goal. Scientists from around the world responded to the call to action and the result is a phenomenal effort produced in record time. One of the most debated and controversial findings is the size of the “carbon budget”, or the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted to stay below 1.5°C. The message is stark: emissions would have to halve by 2030 and reach near zero by 2050.
Alongside more over-arching messages from the Special Report, he will tell the story of the science behind the statements, the level of uncertainty that surrounds them, and the rigorous review and approvals process before appearing in IPCC reports.
Chris Smith is a climate researcher at the University of Leeds and studies the effects of future emissions pathways on temperature change. Chris is a contributing author and chapter scientist on the recent IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C. He co-developed the FAIR simple climate model which was used to produce several of the headline results from the report, and is in the process of developing an online interactive version to demonstrate the model to a wider audience. Chris was also one of the team behind the Climate Platform initiative, distilling climate change science into a series of short words projected onto a huge display on the side of an office building near Leeds train station, following the release of the Special Report.