Thursday, December 03, 2009

World headed for 3.5 degree warming based on current pre-Copenhagen promises

Antonio M. Claparols, president of the Ecological Society of the Philippines has published a heartfelt account of climate change and deforestation on eco-friendly website

The article, entitled “Will Copenhagen Save the World?” evokes stark images of the catastrophic devastation caused by climate change. In an extract from the article Claparols comments: “As I write this, the entire world is talking about climate change and its effects to the environment, agriculture and humankind. The effects of climate change have manifested itself all over the world. In the Philippines the effects of typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng are still fresh in mind. But the real issue is-do we have enough political will to abate climate change?”

A fair deal at Copenhagen is absolutely crucial, but at the moment the world is heading towards disaster.

A sobering new assessment by the “Climate Action Tracker” of the emission commitments and pledges put forward by industrialized and developing countries for the Copenhagen climate negotiations shows that the world is headed for a global warming of well over 3oC by 2100. Carbon dioxide concentrations are projected to be over 650 ppm, with total GHG concentrations close to 800 ppm CO2 equivalent.

This will mean catastrophic sea level rises that will directly affect low-lying areas like Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands and the Philippines.

Everybody must push hard against their political leaders to get them to deliver a legally binding agreement as part of the COP-15 talks.

“The pledges on the table will not halt emissions growth before 2040, let alone by 2015 as indicated by the IPCC and are far from halving emissions by 2050, as has been called for by the G8. Instead global emissions are likely to be nearly double 1990 levels by 2040 based on present pledges”, said Dr Niklas Höhne of Ecofys.

“In 2020 we project total GHG emissions to be around 55 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent per year from all sources, a reduction of about 3 billion tonnes compared to business as usual. In ten years from now global emissions will already have to be well below current levels of about 46 billion tonnes (in 2008) to have much chance of meeting temperature goals such as 2°C, as called for by the major emitters globally, or below 1.5°C as put forward by the Small Island States and Least Developed Countries as essential for their survival”, said Dr (h.c.) Bill Hare of Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“After accounting for the new position of Russia, the announcement of President Obama of a US emission reduction pledge for Copenhagen, the developed country emission reductions as a whole are currently projected to be 13-19% below 1990 levels by 2020. However the proposed forest credits these countries want would degrade this by about 5% with the effective reductions in industrial GHG emissions being 8-14% below 1990 levels by 2020. The low reduction target (8%) is unconditional for most countries and the highest reduction target (14%) is linked by most countries to a strong agreement in Copenhagen”, said Dr. Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics.

Around 25-40% reductions by industrialized countries by 2020 from 1990 GHG emissions levels are described as necessary by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Recent announcements such as the Chinese carbon intensity reduction target for 2020, and the Korean emission goals for 2020 and 2050, are very important and useful. However the overall effect on greenhouse gas emissions (excluding deforestation) is disappointing; with overall developing country emissions projected to be close to, or significantly above, the IPCC range for 2020” said Dr Niklas Höhne of Ecofys.

“Faster economic growth than expected, particularly combined with slower improvements in carbon intensity in China explain part of this. China has ambitious policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy, but the new international target falls short of that ambition. A reduction from “business as usual emissions” by the developing countries as a group is needed in 2020 of 15-30% is needed to limit global warming to 2°C or even lower.

“On deforestation, we have accounted for the announcement of Brazil and of Indonesia which taken together would reduce deforestation emissions globally by about 40% from recent levels by 2020 (or about the same from estimated 1990 deforestation emissions), which is a very important contribution” said Dr Michiel Schaeffer.

“With no concrete pledges on the table for international aviation and marine CO2 emissions these are projected to grow to over double 1990 levels in 2020, reaching about 1.8 billion tonnes per year, and to nearly 4 times 1990 levels in 2050, about 3 billion tonnes per year” said Dr Niklas Höhne of Ecofys.

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