Last week we talked about why the limit of two degrees should be the minimum inalienable objective of the agreement to be obtained during COP21. Today, we want to delve a little deeper into this aspect.

COP21 is not intended to prevent global climate change. It is too late for that, we have already lost that opportunity. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have released such a quantity of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that their effects on the climate system will have irreversible consequences and that we are already beginning to notice. In fact, it is already certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record since the beginning of contemporary climate measurements.

The objective of this agreement will not be, therefore, to prevent global warming, but to mitigate it, trying to eliminate the consumption of fossil fuels in order to limit the greenhouse effect gases present in our atmosphere. Thus, an increase of more than 2ºC in the global average temperature above the pre-industrial level, which is the limit estimated by the scientific community, could be avoided. Beyond, a point of no return could be crossed with unpredictable, irreversible, and catastrophic consequences.

However, two degrees is not something that can be ignored. For this reason, the second great challenge under the new agreement will not only be the mitigation of emissions, but also the adaptation to change that will already be inevitable. Sea level rise has already created the first climate refugees, due to thermal expansion and melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Specifically, it has been detected that a huge glacier in Greenland has come off its island and is already floating and melting in the Atlantic Ocean. It is so vast that by itself it could raise the sea level by almost half a meter. Scientists with the New Zealand Antarctic Program have warned that 2ºC warming could raise sea level by up to 10 metres, due to cumulative effects. Maps would have to be redrawed, and hundreds of millions of people would be displaced. And all this, without thinking about other consequences of climate change, such as ocean acidification or changing precipitation patterns.

To finance this mitigation and adaptation, there is already talk of the creation of a Green Climate Fund at the international level, endowed with financing of 100,000 million dollars in 2020. And this is another of the great issues to be discussed these days: how will it be paid?, and above all, who?