Attendees of the COP 27 climate change summit in Egypt appear to be moving away from the group's decision at last year's meeting to work on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, over the next decades.
"You're absolutely correct," Reuters reported U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry saying during the conference on Saturday. "There are very few countries, but a few, that have raised the issue of not mentioning this word or that word [including the 1.5-degree limit]."
The 1.5-degree Celsius limit goal was initially part of the Paris Climate Accord in 2015. The group formally adopted that language at last year's conference in Glasgow, Scotland; but some now appear to be backing off the commitment.
"But the fact is that, in Glasgow that was adopted; the language is there," Kerry said. "And I know Egypt doesn't intend to be the country that hosts a retreat from what was achieved in Glasgow."
According to a Reuters report Monday, the limit was agreed to based on scientific evidence that the globe's average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees and a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius [57 degrees Fahrenheit] has been relatively stable for the past 12,000 years after the end of the last ice age and coinciding with the development of human civilizations.
That limit, however, could be surpassed in as little as seven years if the current levels of carbon emissions cause the Earth to trap more heat.
"I can say with a high degree of certainty that civilizations can thrive in a 14-degree world — but nobody can tell at any degree of certainty that we can thrive at [much higher temperatures] because we've never been there," Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, at COP27 in Egypt told Reuters.
The report said that developing nations are looking for the group to establish a fund for "loss and damage" that would go to countries following a natural disaster, but Kerry said the U.S. is not on board with that kind of solution.
"It's a well-known fact that the United States and many other countries will not establish some sort of legal structure that is tied to compensation or liability. That's just not happening," Kerry said Saturday. "We will find a way, I am confident, to be able to have financial arrangements that reflect the reality of how we are all going to deal with the climate crisis."
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