Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rotten Eggs

Copenhagen is here. The world is set to come together to throw their eggs at a new climate change deal – or are they? Much of the discussion is on what Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction targets developed (Annex 1) countries should take on by 2020.


Most following the climate change negotiations have safely placed their eggs in their negotiation baskets. How many of these will be broken is yet to be seen. Civil society for one, spear headed by the CAN International network, has published its Fair, Ambitious & Binding document highlighting what is expected from Copenhagen. The CAN eggs call on industrialized countries as a group to take a target of more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.


Similarly, much of the least developed world knows what they want out of Copenhagen. When it comes to emission reduction targets for Annex 1 countries their eggs are branded with bold “-45%” from 1990 levels by 2020. Their call is aimed at bringing GHG emission concentrations down to 350ppm CO2e, a target that returns the climate to a pre-industrialization state, as predicted by science. The Association of Small Island States has been throwing its eggs with particular strength, because they do not want to disappear under the rising seas.


But how are the eggs of the developed countries actually branded? Only three countries have presented ambitious emission reduction targets of 40% or more by 2020 from 1990 levels, namely Norway, Germany and Scotland. Of these, Germany and Scotland fall under the EU basket target of 20-30% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020.


Most developed country eggs are branded with a range and underscored with fine text stating what baseline year they wish for or whether carbon emissions from the land use and forestry sectors should be incorporated. Once transformed to a 1990 baseline the baskets of Australia, Canada and the United States contain the most rotten eggs. The foulest eggs in their baskets indicate pledges to increase their GHG emissions, while their best eggs project emission reductions of less than -10% by 2020. This is well outside of the range of 25%-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 required to stabilize at a GHG concentration of 450ppm.


In general the eggs of Annex 1 countries are rotting well below the levels required by science. According to the C-ROADS model the confirmed proposals presented would result in a climate stabilizing at 1035ppm CO2e, which could result in temperature increases anywhere between 2.2°-6° C. The healthier of the rotting eggs presented by Annex 1 countries would result in temperature increases of up to 4.5° C, which is miles away from the call to keep global warming well below 2° C.


So, let us throw all our healthy eggs at the developing countries to get them to commit to ambitious GHG emission targets.


By: Max Thabiso Edkins

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