Toward a 4°C world?
As we bring this book to a conclusion, we read more of the same when it comes to summary assessment of what is happening to the global climate. NASA’s annual global data confirmed 2012 as the ninth-warmest year on record (NASA 2013). At the same time, in January 2013, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2012 had been that nation’s hottest year since record-keeping began in 1895, with 60 percent of the US mainland experiencing drought conditions, and hurricanes, storms, floods, and wildfires (NOAA 2013). Globally, meanwhile, an estimated 400,000 people are already losing their lives every year as a result of the effects of climate change; many of these are children in developing countries dying from climate-change-induced hunger and communicative diseases (DARA 2012: 17). This is where we find ourselves in 2013, with the average global temperature less than 1°C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Current trends are setting the world on a path to 3–4°C warming by 2050 (Climate Action Tracker 2012). At the upper end of the scale this is likely to lead to extreme flooding in coastal cities, more intense heatwaves, greater water scarcity in many regions, large-scale loss of biodiversity, reductions in crop yields. All this translates into considerable suffering for many people, especially vulnerable groups in developing countries (World Bank 2012). Scientists say that limiting global warming to below 2°C “remains technically and economically feasible” (Vieweg et al. 2012), but at the moment it does not look politically feasible given the present condition of global climate governance. As we have shown in this book, the deficiencies in that governance present some formidable challenges.
The prospects for reform
In the previous chapter we enumerated a long list of suggestions for improving the deliberative qualities of the global governance of climate change – and, by implication, the effectiveness of that governance. We have already accepted that we enter a well-populated field of reformers: the distinctiveness of our offering lies in its deliberative systems aspect. Unique or not, reform proposals have to date failed to achieve much impact in either the multilateral negotiations or the multiple emerging centers of networked governance. How might they receive more of a hearing, and perhaps even be acted upon?