Warning Call from the High North: The urgency of the 1.5°C goal

Open seminar at the Nordic House, Reykjavik, Friday 5 April from 13:00-15:30

Climate science shows how the dynamics of the “cryosphere” – the world’s snow and ice-covered regions – are evidence for the urgency of keeping global warming within 1.5°C this century. High ambition for emissions reductions are key to preventing ever-growing global impacts from climate change. This is because later timing of reductions can trigger cryosphere changes and global feedbacks that may be rapid and irreversible, even after a return to lower temperatures.  Cryosphere thresholds – the “Titanic” of the climate system, slow to turn but with enormous momentum once activated – include ice sheets and mountain glaciers; polar ocean acidification/freshening/warming; Arctic sea ice loss; and permafrost thaw. The IPCC Special Report on 1.5° made clear both that the globe needs to stay within this range, and that it is possible – but the time to turn the ship is growing quite short.

In this seminar, prominent cryosphere scientists, climate negotiators and policy advisers from around the world will discuss this science, the state of international negotiations and what Iceland and other countries are doing to respond.


Session 1 – Changing Cryosphere, Global Impacts

13:00 – 13:30

Glaciers Around the World – How Much Can We Save at 1.5?

Dr. Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir, University of Iceland and Lead Author, IPCC AR6 Ch. 9 (Oceans, cryosphere and sea level change) 

Polar Ocean Acidification and Moving Beyond 450ppm: Impacts on Fisheries and Ecosystems

Dr. Humberto Gonzalez, Institute of Marine Science and Limnology, University of Chile-Austral

Learning from Earth’s History — Ice Sheet Response Beyond 1.5 degrees 

Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and National Academy of Sciences (US) Polar Research Board

13:30 – 13:50 Panel Discussion — the International Policy Response  (Chile, Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, IcelandMet)

13:50-14:00 Questions from the audience

14:00-14:20 Coffee

14:20 – 14:30 Intro to Iceland TV Documentary on Climate Change

Session 2 – How Can Countries Respond?

14:30 – 15:10

Story of the 1980’s – “The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change”

Rafe Pomerance, Chairman of Arctic 21 and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment (US), 1993-99

Pathways to 1.5 Degrees: A Matter of Political Will, Not Science

Dr. Joeri Rogelj, Imperial College/IIASA and Coordinating Lead Author (Chapter 2, Pathways) for the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees and Lead Author, IPCC AR 6 (Ch. 5, Carbon Budgets)

Where Do Countries Stand in the 1.5, 2 and Higher Temperature Pathway Goals?

Dr. Michiel Schaeffer, Climate Analytics and Wageningen University

The Clean Energy Transition: The UK Journey

Dr. Mikael Allan Mikaelsson, Europe Head of Energy Research and Innovation, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

15 :00– 15:20 Panel Discussions – Country-level Responses (Sweden, France, Iceland, Canada, U.S. Climate Alliance)

15:20- 15:30 questions from the audience