This is a short story of love and divorce between two once promising partners, as told by Oliver Geden, senior research fellow from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs on the Political Science blog in the Guardian. Here we go:
It’s no secret that climate science has a hot affair with politics. What keeps them together is a so-called boundary object, the magical 2 degree target:
For almost two decades, the 2°C target has served as a common reference point for climate policy and climate science, as a “boundary object” that allows these two different spheres to communicate and interact productively.
As it is common in modern relationships, each of the partners makes different use of the magical object:
In climate policy, the 2°C target has served primarily as a prominent symbol of the orientation toward an ambitious emissions mitigation agenda. In climate science, the target is used as the basis for complex calculations, especially to determine target-compatible carbon budgets and emissions reduction paths.
But now it is highly probable that it comes to a divorce. Once you start to negotiate the non-negotiable, the magic is gone. No more cross-dressing, no more scientification of politics, no more politicization of science. Instead, once the promise is broken, politics will be politics and science will be science. That’s the way it goes, everybody knows…
And is there a moral to the story? Kind of. The senior policy advisor has some good advice for the scientific policy advisors:
In the near future, scientific policy advisors will have to carefully re-examine their role. When appearing in the media or before parliamentary committees, they should not attempt to distill the enormous volume and range of climate research into explicit demands for political action. Rather, they should restrict themselves to presenting the conditions and consequences of specific policy alternatives (pdf).