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Better governing the global commons: climate, biodiversity, oceans, outer space

Global Commission on Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot

Overshooting the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels, as agreed to in the Paris Agreement, would pose severe climate risks to developing and developed countries alike, including existential risks for some vulnerable communities. Today’s global governance framework contains serious gaps limiting its ability to integrate the full range of responses that could reduce the impact of climate risks on people and the planet. The Global Commission on Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot is an independent commission of global leaders that aims to recommend an effective, robust, and integrated strategy to reduce risks from possible climate overshoot of 1.5 °C through the end of the century.

About the global commission

Overshooting the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels, as agreed to in the Paris Agreement, would pose severe climate risks to developing and developed countries alike, including existential risks for some vulnerable communities. Today’s global governance framework contains serious gaps limiting its ability to integrate the full range of responses that could reduce the impact of climate risks on people and the planet. The Global Commission on Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot is an independent commission of global leaders that aims to recommend an effective, robust, and integrated strategy to reduce risks from possible climate overshoot of 1.5 °C through the end of the century. Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot Like global warming to which they are directly related, climate harms result from cumulative emissions over time and display a ratcheting effect—they will stop growing when emissions fall to zero, but will not reverse. Overshooting the 1.5 °C goal contained in the Paris Agreement, even temporarily, will pose heightened risks to communities and ecosystems that will affect billions of people worldwide. These risks range from health hazards to food insecurity and extreme weather events, as well as threats to human development. While deep and rapid emissions cuts must be the central focus of any climate policy, collective action on climate change must consider the full spectrum of potential responses to actively reduce climate risks. These options include greatly expanded adaptation measures to reduce climate vulnerability, carbon removal to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, and possibly solar geoengineering to cool the planet by reducing incoming solar radiation. Serious gaps exist in governance frameworks for all these options—most acutely for solar geoengineering—which limit the world’s ability to systematically assess the array of responses and integrate them into coherent and robust strategies to reduce risks to people and the planet. The Need for a Global Commission For over a year, the Paris Peace Forum, together with Harvard University and UCLA, has been driving a global multi-actor effort to consider how to address these issues. The effort has engaged a group of high-level individuals from the Global North and the Global South, including a Vice-Chair of the IPCC, the incoming President of COP27, former heads of state and ministers, and prominent scientists and diplomats. The result of this work is the establishment of a Global Commission on Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot, consisting of 12 to 15 eminent global figures from diverse backgrounds representing the Global North and the Global South. Members will include former heads of state, former foreign and environment ministers, high-level diplomats and other prominent individuals. Building upon the outcome of the COP26 in Glasgow and grounded in the authoritative assessments of scientific knowledge provided by the IPCC AR6 process, the Global Commission will identify critical global governance gaps and suggest effective, comprehensive strategies to reduce the risks posed by climate overshoot. A high-level and independent Global Commission, backed by a strong secretariat, will be uniquely positioned to produce and communicate informed conclusions on how best to govern an appropriate mix of responses while maintaining a central focus on emissions reduction. The Commission plans to issue its final report in 2023. Its recommendations will serve as a reference point to guide future global discussions on comprehensive action to govern climate risks, including at important upcoming meetings such as COP27 in 2022, the Global Stocktake and COP28 in 2023, as well as deliberations of both the UNGA and UNEA that same year. The Commission will be aided by a select group of leading scientists, who will assess the available scientific and technical knowledge. A Secretariat composed of professional diplomats, academic experts, and support staff, will assist the work of the Commission, provide for logistics and organization, develop necessary materials and briefing notes to inform the discussion, and assist the Commission in drafting position papers on key issues. It will also work with communications professionals to ensure transparency, anticipate reputational risks, and maximize the impact of the Commission’s work. The Commission will operate as a fully independent entity. An agreement with the Paris Peace Forum to host the secretariat and assist with convening, logistics and dissemination of the report will facilitate the work of the Commission. Commission Mandate
  1. Consider the risks entailed in overshooting 1.5 °C and the range of response options for addressing such risks.
  2. Identify possible benefits, likely costs, potential risks, and current global governance gaps for each policy option supplementing the critical focus on emissions cuts: adaptation, carbon removal, and solar geoengineering.
  3. Identify combinations of options with the greatest potential to reduce climate risks, taking special account of vulnerable peoples and ecosystems, particularly in the Global South.
  4. Engage in transparent consultations, including relevant stakeholder consultations on risks, policy options, and policy integration.
  5. Develop a set of recommendations for an integrated strategy to reduce risks from climate overshoot, linking it to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  6. Share and disseminate these recommendations through a robust outreach campaign following publication of the Commission’s work.

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