Last year on COP 21 in Paris, famous Paris Agreement was finally signed. The objective of this document is to “limit warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”?

What is the difference between 1.5° C and 2°C?  Why this half degree of Celsius is so important?

The European Geosciences Union published a study in April 2016 that examined the impact of a 1.5degree Celsius vs. a 2.0 °C increase by the end of the century. They found thatheat-wave duration, rainstorm intensity and sea-level rise would rise by a third, there would be disproportionately greater impact on some basics crops, tropical reefs would die out and reduction in fresh water in the Mediterranean area would double!

How much time has left before coming to the limit of 1.5°C? Based on figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) it will take just six years of current emissions to exhaust a carbon budget that would probably keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius!

Even we have still not passed a limit many countries are already suffering because of climate change consequences. One of the country that already felt the harsh consequences is Madagascar; island situated in the Indian Ocean archipelago, about 400 km from the southeast coast of Africa.  The southern region of the island is especially affected.  It is facing prolonged drought that has severely affected agricultural activities. A third consecutive year of drought in one of the world’s poorest countries has left more than 1.1 million people unable to feed themselves in the semi-arid south of Madagascar.  “Before the crisis, 13 percent of the population was eating just one meal a day,” Enrique Alvarez, WFP coordinator in the southern Androy region, told French daily Le Monde. “Since January, this number has risen to 47 percent and the situation is only going to get worse.”

In addition, central highlands, that includes the capital Antananarivo, and northern part of Madagascar are struggling with increasingly severe flooding.A tropical storm in the island’s north in March caused heavy rains and flooding that killed dozens of people and displaced thousands.

Climate change is widely blamed for this prolonged drought and destroyed agricultural harvests in the south and increased floods in the north. Local deforestation just made thing worst, by altering the microclimate and reducing rainfall.Forests are important to capture water that will evaporate into clouds and become rain.

Lots of national and international aid organization are leading food assistance on the ground and encouraging farmers to adapt to the ongoing drought problem by replacing water-thirsty crops with lima beans and other legumes that are rich and in nutrients and less water demanding. Also important are alternative methods that would decrease use of charcoal (on of a reason of deforestation) as a prime fuel, such as rocket stoves and carosine and gas stoves.

Madagascar is just one example why 1.5 degree is inevitable and if the governments do not soon agree on it, the situation would be every year just worse and worse.

By Sasa Danon