Scientists argue that 2°C is too high based on current science of the world’s ice, and nations are gathering in Bonn to evaluate pledges made under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scientists argue that 2°C is too high based on current science of the world’s ice, and nations are gathering in Bonn to evaluate pledges made under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The 20-nation Ambition on Melting Ice (AMI) group was established at COP27 and includes polar and mountainous regions (Iceland and Chile co-chair), as well as Liberia, Vanuatu, and Senegal, which are all extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise because of melting glaciers and ice sheets.

These nations and leading scientists cite current research on the effects of glaciers, permafrost, and the world’s ice sheets on a global scale. It demonstrates the unacceptability of the 2°C target outlined in the original Paris Climate Agreement. Even the 1.5°C threshold may be too high.

The AMI countries gathered with other interested governments and stakeholders on Friday in Bonn, where they heard from a wide range of scientists concerned that, even if temperature rise is kept well below 2°C, observations and projections point to catastrophic and, most importantly, long-lasting effects from global ice melt. For instance, increasing evidence from Antarctica suggests thresholds closer to 1.5°C, particularly in the more fragile West Antarctica.

Professor Chris Stokes, a glaciologist from Durham University who spoke at the Bonn event, said, “We are on the edge of a cliff.”

The threshold beyond which ice loss from the Antarctic will become irreversible over centuries to millennia is much lower than we thought, according to the most recent scientific research from the past two to three years. Within the next few decades, if things continue as they are, we could set off runaway feedbacks that would result in much faster ice sheet melting than previously anticipated.

Negotiator Carlos Fuller from Belize, a country in the Caribbean, said at the “cryosphere” workshop, “Knowing what we know today, 2°C should not even be on the table.”In fact, even 1.5°C may be too high,” he continued, echoing a finding from a Nature study that was released earlier last week.

As tens of millions of people are already suffering from the current level of climate change, Johan Rockström, Joyeeta Gupta, and their fellow authors draw the following conclusion: “The world has already passed the safe and just climate boundary, which is set at 1°C above pre-industrial temperature levels.”

According to the IPCC, up to 3.5 billion people reside in areas that are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise caused by melting ice sheets or are reliant on water from glaciers and snow.

We cannot continue emissions at these levels and expect any mountain community to survive, according to Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director of the eight-nation Himalayan organisation ICIMOD.

Pakistan, where more than 10% of the nation was submerged by water last summer due to climate change, is also a part of ICIMOD.

The researchers noted that the upper range of the most recent IPCC projections, known as AR6, is being exceeded by real-time field observations of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and mountain glaciers. The ice sheet has lost kilometres of ice, according to Dr. James Kirkham, an Antarctic scientist, making it appear unrecognisable compared to only a few years ago. The meaning of the phrase “glacial pace” has changed.

“The damage is happening right now; this is not about future impacts,” Koziell of ICIMOD said in his closing statement. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, home to 2 billion people, is currently experiencing melting glaciers, erratic snowfall disrupting water supplies, widespread flooding in contrast to heat and drought, and monsoon disruption. Simply put, we must reduce emissions now even as we prepare for the future.