5 december 2009

[For the implications of a three or four degree increase in global temperatures, consult Mark Lynas, Six Degrees, Our Future on a Hotter Planet. 2008.

Copenhagen climate deal headed for 3.5°C

Climate Action Tracker, December 5, 2009

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 3°C by 2100. Carbon dioxide concentrations are projected to be over 650 ppm, with total GHG concentrations close to 800 ppm CO2 equivalent. From these numbers, there is at least a one in four chance of exceeding a warming of 4°C. This "Climate Action Tracker" is an independent science-based assessment, which tracks the emission commitments and actions of countries. The website provides an up-to-date assessment of individual national pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Individual country assessment

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 nearly double 1990 levels by 2050 based on present pledges.

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.

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. 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 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.

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.

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