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Opinion
The Editors

The World’s Climate Goals Aren’t Ambitious Enough

Two degrees of warming is too much, it turns out.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Photographer: Jeff Miller/Moment RF

In signing the Paris climate agreement, the world’s governments pledged to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Leaving aside that their collective efforts and plans to curb greenhouse gases are not enough to accomplish that — the goal itself turns out to be too modest to prevent disastrous warming.

Today’s report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clarifies how much better off the world would be if warming stopped at 1.5 degrees rather than 2 degrees. Hundreds of millions of people would be spared extended periods of extreme heat, water scarcity, drought and flooding. Crop yields would not fall as drastically. Coral reefs would have a chance of survival. Countless species would be spared extinction.