Our climate is changing around us faster than predicted. From more frequent and extreme storms to unprecedented heat waves, we’re feeling the impacts of human-caused global warming.
But we still have time to change course. We can avoid more dire impacts of climate change by limiting warming to 1.5° C (2.7° F) according to a recent report by the United Nations.
The world is already 1° C (1.8° F) hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900, the pre-industrial era. And while there’s no question that limiting warming to 1.5° C will be difficult, there’s also no question that we have the technology needed to do it—and that it’s worth it.
In 2015, 196 countries signed on to a single, sweeping plan that aims to keep global warming to well below 2° C (3.6° F)—or even 1.5° C. The unprecedented Paris Agreement builds on decades of gradual work by the international community to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts. World leaders must work together to eliminate the release of heat-trapping carbon by 2050—and, ideally, by 2040. To do this, they will need to strengthen their commitments to cut emissions over time.
But climate change is not a problem that government can solve alone; we need collaboration across regional governments, businesses, and communities as well. We also need to help wildlife and people cope with a rapidly warming planet.
Here’s what’s at stake if we limit warming to 1.5° C versus 2° C.
Animations by Hannah P. Mode.