Copenhagen Climate Treaty & Climategate
January 31, 2010
Reuters - Experts say their promised curbs on greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 are too small so far to meet the accord's key goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
The U.N. Climate Change Secretariat plans to publish a list of submissions on Monday. That may put pressure on all capitals to keep their promises.
Countries accounting for at least two-thirds of emissions -- led by China, the United States and the European Union -- have all written in. Smaller emitters, from the Philippines to Mali, have also sent promises or asked to be associated with the deal.
The Secretariat says the January 31 deadline is flexible.
"Most of the industrialized countries' (promises) are in the 'inadequate' category," said Niklas Hoehne, director of energy and climate policy at climate consultancy Ecofys, which assesses how far national commitments will help limit climate change.Some developing nations, such as Brazil or Mexico, were making relatively greater efforts, he said.
"The U.S. is not enough, the European Union is not enough. For the major developed countries it's still far behind what is expected, except for Japan and Norway," he said.
The accord's goal of limiting warming to below 2 C -- meant to help limit floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas -- is twinned with promises of $28 billion in aid for developing nations from 2010-12, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020.
Ecofys reckons that the promised curbs will set the world toward a 3.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures, not 2.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said that on current projections the world would exceed an estimated "carbon emissions budget" for the first half of this century by 2034, 16 years ahead of schedule.
The European Union plans to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 30 percent if others make deep cuts. The United States plans a cut of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, or 4 percent below 1990 levels.
"Carbon prices look set to remain relatively low until economic growth picks up or until a more ambitious target is adopted," Richard Gledhill, a climate expert at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said of the EU goal.The Copenhagen Accord, reached after a summit on December 18 in Denmark, was not adopted as a U.N. plan for shifting from fossil fuels after opposition by a handful of developing nations such as Venezuela and Sudan.
"This will continue to delay major capital investment in low carbon technology," he said in a statement.
One possible complication is that some countries, including China and India, have written to the United Nations giving 2020 targets but without explicitly backing the Copenhagen Accord. The U.N. has asked all to take sides by January 31.
An Indian document sent to the U.N. Secretariat does not mention the accord, for instance, but says it is giving details of plans to 2020 "in view of the current debate under way in the international climate negotiations."
January 29, 2010
DAVOS, Switzerland – Fighting global warming and protecting the environment dominated the discussions Friday at the World Economic Forum, a month after U.N. climate change talks ended without a binding deal on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose country is holding the next U.N. climate conference at the end of the year, was laying out his ideas in a session exploring what is next for climate talks. Renault-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn, who has championed electric cars, was also on hand.
Also Friday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates was speaking about how to better target global development aid and was expected to announce new funding to bring vaccines to poor countries.
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Associated Press that recent scandals over climate data have not discredited the view that global warming exists and must be countered.
"What's happened, it's unfortunate, it's bad, it's wrong, but I don't think it has damaged the basic science," he said.Global warming skeptics have been reinvigorated since a U.N. report warning that Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035 turned out to be off by hundreds of years because of a typo — the actual year was 2350 — and by stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia's climate science unit.
"Concluding that the Himalayan glaciers are going to disappear later is like being happy about the fact that the Titanic is sinking more slowly than we had originally feared, even though it's still going to sink," de Boer said.De Boer said he was "depressed" after the climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding accord to cut global carbon emissions and pay poor countries to deal with higher sea levels. But he said it was "feasible" to get all countries on board for an accord in Mexico by the end of 2010.
A key part of the debate, however, is how progress can be made that is not just environmentally effective but also won't break the bank.
De Boer insisted that climate change was not "off the agenda" of the world after the failure of Copenhagen. He expressed confidence that the business leaders at Davos, who are starting to enjoy an economic recovery after a rough couple of years, would invest anew in renewable energy.
"Energy sector investments that were put on hold because of the crisis are beginning to be made again and I think people will take future climate change policy into account," he said.