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December 04, 2012

Climate Delegates Continue to 'COP Out' at Meeting in Doha



As leaders from 200 countries hem and haw about how much they can do to mitigate climate change at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) in Doha, Qatar—now in its second and closing week—researchers are hitting them with some harsh facts.

A new study, released on Sunday by the Global Carbon Project consortium, has established that carbon emissions worldwide have by increased three percent within the past year— to 38.2 billion tons of carbon, or roughly 2.4 million pounds of carbon pollution every single second. If greenhouse gases continue to climb at the documented rate, Earth’s temperature could rise anywhere from 7°Fahrenheit (F) to 11° F by 2100, bringing with it more of the severe weather characterized by New York’s recent Frankenstorm, including flooding, rising oceans, droughts, and agricultural shortages. The study will be published in the journal, “Nature Climate Change.”

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research and professor at the University of East Anglia in Britain, led the publication of the data. She said: "With emissions continuing to grow, it’s as if no-one is listening to the entire scientific community. I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan.”

The research found that the biggest contributors to global emissions in 2011 were China (28 percent), the United States (16 percent), the European Union (11 percent), and India (seven percent). Emissions in China and India grew by 9.9 and 7.5 per cent in 2011, while those of the United States and the European Union decreased by 1.8 and 2.8 per centHowever, at this point in the negotiations, delegates are still squabbling about ways to limit the world to a 2°C (3.6°F) maximum rise in global temperatures. The dispute concerns whether countries entering the second round of the Kyoto protocol should be allowed to carry over emissions credits from the first phase. Some countries, including Poland, Ukraine and Russia, have large surpluses of credits, generated because their carbon output collapsed alongside their industrial base after the fall of communism.

André Corrêa do Lago, head of the Brazilian delegation, told The Guardian: "The second phase has to have environmental integrity, and you will not have that if countries are allowed to carry over [the credits]. The second period will be completely compromised. This is not a way to have effective reductions."

What’s more, less-developed nations and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)— a coalition of 43 island and coastal nations that are highly vulnerable to climate impacts—are demanding that world leaders commit to a new funding package to help them cope with rising seas and other severe climatic effects of global warming.

Developed countries are being asked to demonstrate how they would meet a promise to raise funding for less-developed nations’ climate mitigation plans to $100 billion per year by 2020— up from a total $30 billion between 2010 and 2012.

The developing world says it needs a total of $60 billion from now to 2015 –but no commitments have been made. United States chief negotiator Todd Stern told  press that these were “obviously challenging fiscal times”, but his country had every intention to continue funding “to the greatest extent that we can.”

Resolution of the emissions and funding issues would green light a new treaty, which must be signed by 2015 and effective by 2020, in order to put the brakes on global warming.

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Maria van der Hoeven, warned Monday that limiting warming to 2C “is becoming more difficult and more expensive with every passing year.”

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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