Scientists Fault Draft Climate Deal

Scientists Fault  Draft Climate Deal Scientists Fault  Draft Climate Deal

While politicians finally agreed on a draft climate pact late Thursday, with the only remaining issue being that of financing poorer countries and how an agreement would differently affect richer and poorer nations, a group of climate scientists have criticized the preliminary deal.

On Friday, scientists said that the latest draft showed serious inconsistencies and would require much deeper cuts to emissions than currently foreseen, as negotiators continued to haggle over a final deal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the streamlined, 27-page long draft climate pact, governments will commit to holding the average rise in global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

That is a victory for some small island states, which say a 2-degree warming would result in rising seas swallowing their lands and depriving their citizens of their homes and livelihoods.

Yet, a panel of five climate scientists — convened at the site of the Paris talks — said the rest of the draft agreement did not back up that promise. To keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees, man-made emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be reduced to zero by 2050, the scientists said.

“You cannot say we’ll stay under 1.5 [degrees] on the one hand and not say anything on decarbonization on the other hand,” said Steffen Kalbekken, director at the Norway-based Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy. “Otherwise it is meaningless.”

In contrast with earlier drafts, which included plans to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95% by 2050 from 2010 levels, the new text sees emissions peaking “as soon as possible,” giving extra time to developing countries.


In the second half of the century, the world should reach “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality,” the draft text says. That would mean cutting emissions to such a low level that they would be absorbed by the earth’s natural mechanisms, such as plants or oceans, or new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

“There is an inconsistency between near-term and long-term ambition,” said Joeri Rogelj, a research scholar at the Energy Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.

National pledges to limit greenhouse-gas emissions fall far short of reaching even the less ambitious goal in the draft text and would still see global temperatures rise by around 3 degrees from preindustrial levels, according to assessments from UN and other scientists.

The draft agreement foresees governments reassessing their emissions pledges every five years, but this review process doesn’t start early enough, the scientists in Paris said. Under the draft, governments would evaluate their efforts in 2019—one year before the Paris deal is set to kick in—in a “facilitative dialogue.” But the first full global stocktaking of emissions would not happen until 2023.

By then, the scientists said, emissions will likely have surpassed the maximum allowed under any existing 1.5-degree scenario.