Good, But Not Enough

Good, But Not EnoughGood, But Not Enough

Scientists say warming must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century to stave off the worst effects of climate change, such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels, the United Nations announced on Friday.

National strategies would restrict a rise in world emissions to the equivalent of 56.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, four billion less than expected without the extraction, from 49 billion in 2010, it said, RTE reported.

“It is a very good step ... but it is not enough,” UN Climate Change Secretariat Christiana Figueres said during a presentation of the report in Bonn.

The plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, will be the building blocks for a UN deal expected at a summit set for Paris from 30 November to 11 December to fight global warming in the years from 2020.

Figueres did not formally project a likely temperature rise by 2100, because most INDCs only stretch to 2030 but she said indications from independent analysis showed the pledged reductions would limit temperatures rises at 2.7° C.

Almost 200 governments agreed in 2010 to limit warming to 2° C above pre-industrial times, meaning Paris will have to agree ways to increase action in coming years.

Temperatures have already gained by about 0.9° C.

Figueres said negotiators in Paris would have to decide how the INDCs would be enshrined in the new agreement and how to periodically review the pledges.

“Many countries have been healthily conservative about what they have put forward,” she said, adding that many countries and particularly China, are likely to achieve greater emission reductions than the targets they have put forward.

Friday’s report is the most authoritative attempt to sum up the impact of INDCs and was welcomed by financial investment groups.

“Strong national plans provide the kind of vital market signals required from policy makers if investors are to curb the risk of stranded assets in the fossil fuel sector and to make the huge investments in low-carbon technologies,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the International Investors Group on Climate Change.

 Deeper Emission Cuts Needed

Environmental groups said the report showed the Paris agreement needs to be a starting point for deeper emission cuts.

Even though the plans do not add up to enough of a cut to avoid a 2° C rise, campaigners believe that a strong review mechanism can - and must - be put in place by the Paris agreement.

“We insist that the Paris Agreement sets up a mechanism to get countries to further drive down emissions, without delay,” said Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics at Greenpeace.

“The world needs a clear and inspiring signal from Paris that the game is changing, that all countries are taking climate science seriously, embracing the full potential of clean, renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels,” he said in a statement.

“Paris will not be the end of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change, but it might be the end of the beginning,” said Mohammed Adow from Christian Aid, according to BBC.

“Going forward we will need a five-year review mechanism that will track how countries are doing and push them to do more as technology advances and more finance becomes available.”

Getting all that into a Paris deal will not be easy. In fact the emissions pledges are the most straightforward aspect.

In fact, the negotiators now have a draft document that runs to 50 dense pages.

In the words of one delegate at a recent negotiating session, even the world’s best paid lawyer would be hard pressed to understand it.