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Two Degrees: A Global Climate Accord and its Disparities
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0866-0487
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the discourse of global climate change the figure two (2) plays a prominent role. When the Copenhagen Accord anchored the two-degree-goal in 2009 the figure became a powerful target guiding international climate politics and a publicly comprehensible symbol of urgency. Based on scientific conjectures of planetary boundaries the figure quantifies the objective to limit the average global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius compared to the pre-Industrial Era. Although the figure continues to be contested it continues to mark the space for humanity that is safe to operate in, maintaining present ecological and social conditions on Earth.

 

The two-degree-goal’s most attractive aspect is also its most problematic: a single numeral gathers ecological thresholds and political ambitions. This paper explores the promises and shortcomings of consigning an aggregated number to describe a temporally and spatially complex condition. It will do so by focusing on two paradoxes in the construction of the global target. First, the global average does not disperse into the diversity of local specificities. The figure two quantifies climate change on the global scale; by definition it cannot be experienced locally. The paper will discuss how the focus on temperature increase in aggregate diverts from the inequalities of causes and effects of climate change. The figure may be global in its scientific and political reach but is by no means universal in its impact. Secondly, the political guide value and the scientific threshold value do not necessarily correspond. While the guide value marks a political turning point the threshold value marks an ecological tipping point at which climate change may become uncontrollable. Two points, two futures: one relying on nature’s ‘elasticity’, the other experimenting with ‘overshooting’ the limits, suggesting a set of options among which stability is only one, and possibly not the most desirable route. The paper will discuss the two-degree-goal as putting the readiness for uncertainty and flexibility to the test on the scale of global humanity by counting on the adaptive abilities of a global system that lacks local correspondence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts History of Ideas Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199429OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-199429DiVA, id: diva2:1062519
Conference
"Creative Commensuration: Histories of Scaling in Science and Society", Workshop Center History of Knowledge Zurich, July 7-8
Note

QC 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-06 Created: 2017-01-06 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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