Home » General » Kudos to China As Cop20 Opensl

We now know regardless of mitigation actions taken today or tomorrow, global temperatures will likely climb an unsustainable 4 degrees Celsius by end of this century. That’s what a 2012 World Bank report, “Turn Down The Heat” predicted. While this is not a call to inaction, three important events have occurred in the last four weeks that may help shape a g climate agreement at Paris next year, as parties convene for the 20th COP starting in the Peruvian capital, Lima, this week.

The first one is the deal between the world’s two biggest emitters, China and the United States. On November 12 at the APEC Summit in Beijing, the two countries, accounting for over 50 percent of world greenhouse gases production, jointly announced plans for post-2020 emission reductions.

China agreed to increase its share of renewables by up to 20 percent by 2030 and achieve maximum carbon dioxide emissions by the same date.

The US said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

China’s commitment to renewables will mean installing 800 to 1 000 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy capacity.

This “is more than all the existing coal-fired power plants in China and close to the total electricity-generating capacity of the US,” according to an article by Xueman Wang that appeared on the World Bank website on November 25.

Now, although it is clear the Asian country will cut emissions by increasing use of non-fossil fuel based energy, China’s actual emissions reductions during the period to 2030 remain vague and unquantifiable.

The country did not provide detail on this specific aspect, which makes the global ambition of curbing temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius not any easier.

More importantly, however, is that China has now begun to act on climate change. Despite its proven high carbon footprint, China’s ‘developing country’ status has kept it away from committing under the Kyoto Protocol, as was the case with other major polluters.

The Protocol expired in 2012 and along with it its binding components that forced developed countries to cut GHGs in an effective, verifiable manner.

There is now some optimism China’s commitment to mitigation will inspire ger action from industrialised countries that have been unwilling to commit or raise ambition on the basis of the “China excuse”.

Resistance for greater ambition has been demonstrated by nations like Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. Until the China deal, America’s emission targets remained very weak, managing only 17 percent of cuts below 2005 levels.

It would be interesting to find out how much of an influence are China’s actions on high emitting emerging economies under BRICS, of which the Asian giant is an important member.

This is where most of the future emissions are expected to come from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, due to rapid industrialisation.

The BRICS are already under pressure from industrialised states that have called for a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The new deal should bind the BRICS and other developing countries to commit, according to demands by rich countries.

Then secondly, on October 23, the European Union committed to cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and boost non-fossil fuel energy use to 27 percent.

This follows the Union’s premature claims at the Bonn talks earlier this year that the 27-member group had “overachieved” its first commitment emission reductions of 20 percent below the 1990 levels, the base year.

These claims could neither be verified nor supported by the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global body responsible for leading multi-lateral negotiations aiming to stabilise atmospheric carbon concentrations.

Now, these targets are less ambitious, and we can expect with a degree of certainty the already inadequate plans will be what the EU brings to the negotiating table at the decisive Paris conference in 2014.

This will not satisfy Africa’s long-standing targets of 40 percent cuts by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050. The UN panel on climate change will not be pleased either.

Scientists who produced the Fifth Assessment Report said emissions would have to be cut by as much as 80 percent in this century to achieve the desired and sustainable warming of 2 degrees Celsius or under.

That would mean cutting by more than three quarters all industrial activity like fossil fuels extraction and use, and applying a corresponding increase in the switch to use of sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind.

The entire economic chain would have to limit emissions by that much to attain targeted warming levels.

Combined, the targets from the EU, China and the US, even current raised levels, still under-performs both Africa’s expectations and those demanded by the science to guarantee a safer world.

And then, thirdly, on November 20 at the donor conference in Berlin, industrialised nations pledged $9,3 billion to the crucial Green Climate Fund with the US and Germany leading the pack.

France has already committed $1 billion to the Fund during the special UN Climate Summit in New York on September 23.

The pledges are only a tenth of what was actually promised beginning two years ago, $100 billion per year until 2020, as part of wider measures to helping developing countries adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

From the preceding three events, and with the exception of China’s new commitments, the pathway to Paris clearly remains bumpy. The critical issues of adaptation and mitigation, which are key to Africa, have only been partially met, so far.

These two issues should be the lynchpin for any new agreement replacing Kyoto. It’s fairly easy to understand why.

Firstly, because of the need to fulfil international agreements. The Bali Action Plan established adaptation as one of four pillars of the UNFCCC, along with mitigation, technology transfer and finance.

Then, secondly, moral justice and historical responsibility. Although Africa contributes under 5 percent of global emissions, the continent suffers disproportionately the impacts of climate change due to widespread poverty and lack of technologies.

The continent is aiming that developed countries commit 1,5 percent of their combined GDP to adaptation and mitigation.

That’s over $600 billion of GDP of the 34 nations considered as aanced economies by the International Monetary Fund, which includes members of the G7, European Union, and the 4 “newly industrialised Asian economies” — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea. The world’s 150 other nations are considered emerging or developing.

With only 12 months left before the 2015 COP in Paris, by when the new agreement must be finalised, the absence of a clear pathway to achieving that goal has left the UNFCCC’s climate process in question, whether it has the ability to respond adequately to the urgency of climate change or if the process is still relevant at all.

For a process that began 24 years ago, its effectiveness in combating climate change remains a matter of conjecture, as the main objective of limiting emissions growth in an effective verifiable manner, and therefore, by extension, climate change, is still far from being attained. As a matter of fact, in the years the Convention has existed, the effects of climate change have worsened.

There is now a lot of climate work that has begun at national and local levels in different countries worldwide outside the jurisdiction of the UNFCCC, which may signify the waning confidence in the multilateral climate system from across many state and non-state actors.

God is faithful.

jeffgogo@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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