Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sea level to rise by a metre or more if wealthy nations do not meet emissions pledges, Climate Action Tracker

By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Panama

04 October 2011 Panama --- Three non-profit climate research institutions in Europe say aggregated emission reduction pledges of wealthy nations fall far short of what is needed to get the world on track to limiting global warming to 2 and 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Both of these warming limits are mentioned in the Cancun Agreements.

Findings of the Climate Action Tracker, comprised of Ecofys, Climate Analytics and Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research were revealed in Panama Tuesday, at the margins of the climate change negotiations underway in Panama City.

The group analysed the pledges made under the Cancun Agreement and found a gap of 10-14 billion tonnes is needed to reach the reduction level required.

“If countries implemented the most stringent reductions they have proposed, with the most stringent accounting, Climate Action Tracker has calculated the remaining gap would shrink to 8-12 billion tonnes, said Dr Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

Dr. Bill Hare
If this situation remains, we are headed towards 3 degrees, which is dangerous for the planet, adds Dr Hare.

This will easily result in damage to vulnerable ecosystems, including sea level rise. 

“Seal level rise is likely to be a metre or more, he told Climate Pasifika.

“Countries that are vulnerable have been calling for 2 degrees or lower because of the substantial risks in these nations.

Dr Hare said scientific researches and literatures are warning of the danger uncontrolled global emissions will have on the planet.

“These are the kind of risks that politicians need to think very seriously about when they are looking at their levels of ambition.

“Many parties have put forward a submission that we establish a process in Durban to continually review and upgrade the level of ambition.  

“The EU, small islands and many African countries are pushing to have a concrete and substantative process of both a technical and political character moving forward after Durban. These are being resited by major emitters who are saying we made our pledges for 2020 and we don’t want to touch them until much later, Dr Hare told Climate Pasifika.

 According to Climate Action Tracker’s analysis of the pledges of five developed and developing nations, China appears to be on track to meet or even surpass its Cancun pledges but its emissions will rise higher than expected.

The five countries are China, United States of America, Brazil, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

“The higher overall picture shows that a higher than expected economic growth rate brings with it higher emissions, and the sooner the switch is made to cleaner energy sources, the better it is to avoid locking in climate-damaging energy.

“It also illustrates the risks and uncertainties of using business as usual scenarios as the basis for emission reduction pledges, said Dr Hare.

China, according to the findings is set to surpass its Cancun Agreement pledge of 40-45 percent reduction in emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product by 2020 from 2005 levels through its renewable energy and other non-fossil fuel energy sources.

“Yet faster than expected economic growth means that emissions in 2020 are likely to be higher than previous estimates – by about 1 Gigatonne of carbon dioxide, said Dr Hare.

The group also observed that the absence of substantial action from the United States to meet its Copenhagen pledge of a 17 percent reduction by 2020 (at 2005 levels) will prove more expensive with every year of delay.

“If the US doesn’t start acting until 2015, it will need to reduce emissions at a rate of 3 percent a year," said Climate Action Tracker.

Brazil’s emissions will grow more rapidly than previously expected, according to new data obtained in the study.

South Korea, Japan and Australia have introduced policies to implement their pledges.

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