This week in Oxford, we are delighted to join an invited audience of politicians, scientists, economists, businesses, civil society and academics to discuss ‘1.5 Degrees: Meeting the Challenges of the Paris Climate Agreement‘.

The target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees demonstrates a new unity of political will to increase rates of carbon reduction. But, to reach this goal, tough action is required, as well as new scientific research.

In the opening address, Oxford University Vice Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, warned that ‘the real work is yet to begin’. Change will only be possible if a collaborative approach is taken. Carbon reduction is not only the responsibility of governments, but businesses and individuals.

Laurence Tubiana, the French Ambassador for climate negotiations, and a leading force behind COP21, emphasised that the 1.5-degree agreement was only made possible by the support given from cities, civil society and businesses. These actors now bear the responsibility to step up and take action.

For many years ClimateCare has highlighted that climate and sustainable development are inextricably linked. We were delighted that remarks at the conference opening show a growing movement towards integrated climate and development action, linking carbon reduction to other international agreements – particularly the Sustainable Development Goals.

This point was emphasised by Janos Pasztor, Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General of Climate Change. Following questions from the floor, he acknowledged the much greater risk that climate change poses to developing nations, and the importance of prompt mitigation action, which simultaneously accelerates development outcomes.

However, there is a growing need to drive demand for more substantial action on climate change. Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, warned that a focus on the supply side – revolutionising energy and infrastructure systems – was not enough, without a fundamental shift in societal ‘norms and values’. Without demand for ‘zero carbon lifestyles’, he believes a 1.5 degree limit to warming will prove an elusive goal post. Tubiana concurred, warning that at present we have a ‘problem of expectation’ – set our standards low, and corporates will not respond.

Global average temperature rise has already broken 1 degree. In the arctic, it has exceeded 2 degrees. Nakicenovic put it bluntly, ‘the legitimacy of business as usual is over’.

We look forward to meeting new partners at the conference who can help us drive the call for action and use business as a force for good. If you are attending, you’ll find us presenting our work at the poster session later today, demonstrating how our integrated Climate+Care projects can help us deliver against a 1.5 degree target.