10 December 2008

Experts warn proposed UN climate targets not ambitious enough

Scientists claim countries are squabbling over targets which, even if agreed, may not be enough to prevent dangerous levels of climate change

Tom Young, BusinessGreen, 09 Dec 2008

Ice break

Even if developed countries manage to reach an agreement on 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reductions currently being discussed in Poznan, it may be too late to prevent dangerous climate change, according to a network of think tanks and research institutes.

The gap between these proposals and scientific estimates of the global cuts needed to avoid dangerous climate change – what the network terms the " mitigation gap" – could threaten the credibility of the UN process, the Global Climate Network warned yesterday.

"Industrialised countries' current proposals clearly fall well short of the mark," said Andrew Pendleton, senior research fellow at Institute for Public Policy Research and a member of the Global Climate Network.

In a paper entitled Closing The Mitigation Gap, the researchers argue that if all industrialised countries make cuts comparable in scope to those recently discussed in the US, then the total 2020 reduction across this group of countries would amount to around 10 per cent below their 1990 levels.

This would leave a mitigation gap in 2020 equal to the US' entire annual emissions – around 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon.

"Identifying this mitigation gap is an important step in creating equitable international policy solutions towards achieving the global goal," said Kit Batten, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in the US.

But the researchers argue that support for the rapid development of new, low-carbon technology and the provision of finance for developing countries may help close this gap before 2050.

© Incisive Media Ltd. 2008

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