Royal Society publishes summary on why 1.5C is important and what the UK Government can do to keep us within it

22 November 2018

The Paris Agreement set an ambition to hold future global warming to ‘well below 2°C’ while ‘pursuing efforts’ to limit it to 1.5°C. Holding warming to 1.5°C would considerably reduce risks to people in the UK and around the world.

Last month, the IPCC set out how 1.5°C could be achieved. In response, the Royal Society has produced a summary of their findings – Keeping global warming to 1.5°C: Challenges and opportunities for the UK – and what these mean for the UK. The summary identifies what UK policymakers can do now to deliver this target, both in the UK and as a contribution to global efforts.

It says that by 2050 the UK must have reduced its net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, to zero and also markedly reduced its other greenhouse gas emissions. It outlines six key areas in which the UK can rapidly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and calls for investment in the research and application of carbon dioxide removal methods and for the UK government to play a leadership role in supporting global action to deliver 1.5°C. The summary is being presented to parliamentarians at an event in the House of Commons today (Thursday, 22 November).

Sir Brian Hoskins FRS, chair of the steering group and chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, says “Everything possible should be done to limit global warming to close to 1.5°C, however current policies in the UK are not even consistent with a 2°C limit.

“We need rapid and concerted action by the UK government, and this summary identifies a range of options that are available to us now, such as being more efficient with our use of energy and ramping up our investment in low carbon energy and in greenhouse gas removal technologies. The changes we need to make to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions are ambitious, but they are feasible and urgent –  there is no room for delay.”

Earlier this year a joint report from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society presented an ambitious plan for how the UK can lead the way in deploying greenhouse gas removal technologies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. A range of greenhouse gas removal technologies were assessed for their real-world potential to be used together to meet climate goals in the UK over the next 30 years.