A World Beyond 1.5 Degrees

Beyond 1.5C and a totemic shift in our attitude towards a new reality 

The most provocative and worrying question facing everyone alive today is how far and fast global temperatures will continue to rise unabated. What lies ahead once we pass a threshold of no return?

We might term this ‘A World Beyond 1.5 Celsius,’ as in shooting past the temperature that the international community has deemed the limit to prevent worsening and potentially irreversible effects of climate change. It is self-evident that the world is neither doing enough, nor going fast enough on climate emission mitigation. Nor are we planning for compound risks and crises.

“The commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C is nearly going up in smoke.  Without further action, we are headed to a 2.8C increase. The consequences, as we all know, would be devastating.  Several parts of our planet would be uninhabitable. And for many, it would mean a death sentence.” – Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, 2023

The 1.5 Celsius target acts as both an anchor and point of reference, indicating how far we are on track in terms of limiting runaway climate change. What isn’t widely spoken of is how the world may change in quite astonishing ways, or that while we are engaged in doing all we can to cut emissions and restore nature, we also need to be realistic about the life that we may be moving cluelessly into and prepare for it.

Some people view the shock of potentially missing the 1.5°C goal as a catalyst for positive change and bold action, some are in the throes of failure denialism, and some are gritting their teeth and saying it’s too serious to ignore. And, as expectations shift and reality dawns, we might move in either direction.

We could harness this momentum to trigger more ambitious action than was ever previously considered possible or acceptable. Or, in the worst-case scenario, heightened climate activism or fighting over resources may lead to violent clashes, underscoring the intricate political and social challenges effectively addressing climate change.

The challenge of finding the right balance between mitigation and adaptation is faced by authorities everywhere. Yet the reality is that we need both as the biodiversity and climate crises are already upon us. We will curate the collective intelligence around this most serious of subjects. The stark reality of projected temperature rise is a siren alert recognising the disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Nor can we allow vested interests to own the future, either those wealthy enough to hunker down and escape the worst consequences of extreme weather and heat or those stirring up escalating potential for social conflict as we move through certain climate-safe thresholds.

Are we doing enough to fight inequality and social injustice, and to prevent further autocratic leaders from emerging? And, what is equally important, are we doing everything in our hands to tackle climate change…our present struggle..is also against fear, mistrust, selfishness, xenophobia, and environmental disaster. And its outcome will define life in the West and beyond for decades to come.” – Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain, January 2023

How will food grow or not in the future once soils are either sodden or parched? What about ocean marine life struggling to survive in warming seas? What happens when countries of people are on the move? What can and should the finance sector, the lifeblood of the economy, be attuned to?  That’s central banks and financial supervisors, heads of key financial institutions and political leaders of key G20 countries. Investors and financial institutions are urged to support a call for improved financial governance and advocate for wider financial system reform.

This is our invite to the table. NatureFinance is not alone in appreciating this inflection point, as seen by our event held at Davos in 2024. This is a time where what we say and do will either leave us powerless in the face of unimagined consequences or we move towards raised ambition and action. We will also be ‘stress-testing’ our own work to ensure that it’s fit for the near future. Please join what could be the most important conversation of our lives as we move forward and commission critical research that will inform us all. We will also be adding useful resources to this page and convening events and webinars going forward.

Please send any comments or thoughts to beyond1.5@naturefinance.net



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