1.5 degrees Celsius

We can keep warming below 1.5°C. But it will take a profound transformation of our societies and systems to create a better world, while avoiding climate breakdown and dangerous technologies, according to the world’s climate science body, the IPCC.


Keep temperature rise below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels

  • Human activities have already caused 1°C of warming above pre-industrial levels. 

  • Warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues at the current rate. 

  • Current emissions put us on track for over 4 degrees C by 2100, and risks higher levels. 

  • Warming around 3°C by 2100 is likely based on governments current pledges to cut emissions.

  • Under the Paris Agreement 197 countries agreed to hold warming “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.


Warming of 2°C or above is extremely dangerous

According to IPCC, more warming threatens:

  • Higher temperature in most land and ocean regions. 

  • Hot extremes in most inhabited regions. 

  • Heavy precipitation in several regions.

  • Drought in some regions. 

The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of warming increases.


1.5°C is dangerous, but is much less dangerous than higher levels

Climate risks are higher for 1.5°C than at present, but lower than for 2°C: 

  • It lessens sea level rise, enabling opportunities for adaptation in small islands, coasts and deltas. 

  • It lowers the impacts on land-based, freshwater and coastal ecosystems. 

  • It lowers impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction. 

  • It reduces increases in ocean temperature and acidity, and risks to marine biodiversity, fisheries, and ecosystems, and their functions and services to humans. 

  • It limits further damage to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, and human security.

  • It reduces the need for adaptation, and the risks of losses and damage.


Below 1.5°C is possible, but requires radical action now to avoid reliance on dangerous technologies

  • Staying below 1.5°C requires rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban, infrastructure, and industrial systems. 

  • These transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors.

  • Avoiding overshoot of 1.5°C, and reliance on future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), can only be achieved if global CO2 emissions decline well before 2030. 

  • It requires fundamental societal and systems transformations, and stronger capacities for climate action of national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities. 

  • Keeping warming below 1.5°C requires listening to the best united science currently available, and urgent action to ensure climate justice and equity. 


For more information see:
 IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, Summary for Policymakers