2010: The Year of the Deal (I hope)

January 4, 2010

The Copenhagen climate talks have wrapped up. There have been many different assessments of “Copenhagen Accord.” Some people focus on the negative (“no real commitments!”) while others try to put a positive spin on the accord (“China and US agree!”).

While I want to be hopeful the talks didn’t waste a vast amount of international goodwill, the reality is that many went home frustrated and angry. And we, as a global society, are still heading for an unsafe world.

Analysis we did in during the COP shows that we are on track for 3.9 degrees Celsius of warming. That analysis, as part of the Climate Interactive team, is actually higher than 3.8 degrees Celsius we calculated before the Copenhagen talks. Why? The main reason is that countries didn’t propose any new initiatives to reduce emissions, and Japan actually reduced their proposed targets. A warmer world was not the outcome I was expecting from the climate negotiations.

During the two week period, proposals were introduced that, if fully implemented, would have kept the world below 2 degrees of warming. The Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) working group suggested that global emissions in 2050 be kept below [50%/85%/95%] of 1990 levels. The [bracketed] text means that negotiators were still deciding the final number. The important thing to note is that all three values would prevent significant warming that we can expect given our likely emissions trajectory. All three values were on the right track.

The LCA texts were eventually dropped and the final Copenhagen Accord has no mention of a 2050 target.

But knowing that text did exist is heartening. My ‘optimistic self’ is trying to tell my ‘3.9 deg analytical self’, “These talks set up 2010 to be the Year of the Deal.” I hope that is right.


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