In 2021, governments blew hot on 1.5C goal, colder on climate action

(Reuters, 20 Dec 2021) Support for the goal to keep global warming to 1.5C has won fresh political backing in 2021 - but it remains out of reach.

Around the world, 2021 was a year shaped by weather extremes. Germany and China saw devastating floods, while parts of Europe and the United States were ravaged by wildfires. Drought in East Africa led to crop losses and hunger, from Kenya to Madagascar.

Worsening disasters - in many cases made more likely and severe by climate change - have at last pushed governments to grasp the importance of meeting an international goal to rein in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F), experts say.

In 2015, when the landmark Paris Agreement was struck, about 195 nations formally committed to limit warming to "well below" 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial times, while "pursuing efforts" for a more ambitious ceiling of 1.5C.

The potentially devastating effects of letting the Earth's climate heat up beyond that lower limit became more evident this year, according to government officials and climate scientists.

"(We) did witness a clear shift from other countries to support keeping 1.5C alive," said U.N. ambassador Aubrey Webson of Antigua and Barbuda, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States, uniting 39 nations from the Pacific to the Caribbean.

Those island states have long led the push for the 1.5C goal to prevent further catastrophic losses, with many of them at risk of being swallowed up by rising seas as the planet warms.

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Reuters, 20 Dec 2021: In 2021, governments blew hot on 1.5C goal, colder on climate action