LONDON (Reuters) – “Shall we all just kill ourselves?”
FILE PHOTO: People cool off in the Trocadero fountains across from the Eiffel Tower in Paris as a new heatwave broke temperature records in France, July 25, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
It was an odd title for a comedy night, but British stand-up Carl Donnelly turned out to have chosen an environmental theme with impeccable timing.
With temperature records tumbling daily in last week’s European heatwave, a crowd in an east London bar seemed uniquely primed to appreciate his darkly humorous riffs on the existential threat posed by climate change.
That foretaste of a radically hotter world underscored what is at stake in a decisive phase of talks to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, a collective shot at avoiding climate breakdown.
With study-after-study showing climate impacts from extreme weather to polar melt and sea level rise outstripping initial forecasts, negotiators have a fast-closing window to try to turn the aspirations agreed in Paris into meaningful outcomes.
“There’s so much on the line in the next 18 months or so,” said Sue Reid, vice-president of climate and energy at Ceres, a U.S. non-profit group that works to steer companies and investors onto a more sustainable path.
“This is a crucial period of time both for public officials and the private sector to really reverse the curve on emissions,” Reid told Reuters.
In October, the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned emissions must start falling next year at the latest to stand a chance of achieving the deal’s goal of holding the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
With emissions currently on track to push temperatures more than three degrees higher, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is working to wrest bigger commitments from governments ahead of a summit in New York in September.
Telling world leaders that fa