05/20/2022 12:02 PM EDT
THE OVERSHOOT — What if we don’t make it? Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world agreed to limit — or at least try to limit — global warming to 1.5° Celsius.
But we’re approaching that horizon now, and chances are pretty good that we’ll breach it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last month said that it is “almost inevitable.”
Enter the Climate Overshoot Commission, a new group that will explore ways to respond and adapt if global warming continues on its present trajectory.
On the commission’s agenda: Large-scale carbon capture and a system to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back into space.
It all sounds a little sci-fi. Geoengineering is scientifically controversial. And large-scale carbon dioxide removal and sunlight reflection would require global governing structures that don’t exist, which is one problem the commission will try to address.
But big problems demand big ideas. The 16-member group includes former heads of state, government ministers, environmental leaders, academics and others. It’s led by Pascal Lamy, president of the Paris Peace Forum and former director-general of the World Trade Organization.
“All of us would prefer not to confront the consequences of insufficient action,” Lamy said in an announcement of the group’s formation on May 17. “We will continue to work towards achieving the world’s climate goals as best we can. But we also have an overriding responsibility to be prepared, in case we do not succeed.”
The group holds its first meeting in June at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy and is to deliver its ideas at the 2023 U.N. Climate Change Conference.
The takeaway: Geoengineering, at least in theory, is becoming mainstream.