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On the eve of the 1.5 Degrees scientific conference taking place at the University of Oxford this week, Carbon Brief spoke to Laurence Tubiana, the French climate change ambassador who played a pivotal diplomatic role in securing the Paris Agreement last December.
Carbon Brief asked Tubiana what questions policymakers need scientists to answer as they prepare to provide the evidence base for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5C, which is due to be published in 2018. The Paris Agreement surprised many observers, not least the scientific community, by committing the world’s nations to limit the rise in global temperatures, compared to pre-industrial times, to “well below” 2C and “pursue” 1.5C.
In the video interview below, Tubiana says:
“Is [1.5C] just an aspiration, or are there any pathways? We need numbers, scenarios and pathways…We are very late, but it is achievable. This message needs to be conveyed in a more positive way…The [IPCC special report] should say how difficult the task is, yes, but it should also say how to address it and how much time we have left to do it. We should depoliticise this.”
On whether this is putting pressure on scientists, Tubiana adds:
“We know that pushing “the catastrophe” was not finally so effective in pushing governments, citizens, whoever, to act. The scientists have to be very clear on the reality: where we are with the carbon budget that is left; how much we have to peak by 2020, which is still not in the mindset of many, many governments; and how sharp the decrease should be after. They have to communicate their very solid scientific understanding…What does it take with transport, energy, land-use, agriculture? All this needs to be explained. And it’s very important that the impacts are clearly understood – the difference between 1.5C and 2C and beyond. The scientific community has a responsibility to show that there is an immense difference between 1.5C and 2C.”
On where there are specific knowledge vacuums and where scientists can best target their research, she says:
“Agriculture and food security. And on transport. And the mystery of negative emissions…And on specific impacts at a very local level…It’s very important how they craft the message on negative emissions. They have to say that we don’t yet know how to do it, not just say the result of the modelling…For the moment, we just don’t know [how to do it]. There is so much uncertainty [about geoengineering]…We don’t know the risk and we don’t know the cost.”
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Video: Laurence Tubiana on the 1.5C questions scientists need to answer