New research published by the European Geosciences Union Thursday attempted to make the scientific case for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the change could cost the world an additional $16.5 trillion and likely wouldn’t work.
The new research illustrated the potential risks of minor global warming to island nations and coral reefs, but scientists estimated lowering the target to 1.5 degrees Celsius would cost a minimum of $12.1 trillion. The cost would likely rise as high as $16.5 trillion between 2016 and 2030 when energy efficiency measures are included.
“Our results add to a growing body of evidence showing that climate risks occur at lower levels than previously thought. It provides scientific evidence to support the call by vulnerable countries, such as the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, that a 1.5°C warming limit would substantially reduce the impacts of climate change,” William Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, which took part in the research, said in a press statement.
Many other scientists believe the U.N.’s global warming goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius is both politically motivated and not scientifically plausible. Previously, the U.N. defined a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius as the threshold of “dangerous global warming” and stated a lower target was unfeasible and “naive.”
Essentially, the new targets are so close to temperatures today, they are effectively impossible to meet according to the best available science. The new targets are unlikely to be safer as well.
The benefits of actually reaching such a low target would mostly benefit very small island nations threatened by rising sea levels. When island nations previously proposed it at a U.N. climate conference, they were met with vehement opposition.
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