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U.N. Calls for Tougher Emission Cuts

worldmapThe world can still cap global warming at far lower levels — 1.5 degrees Celsius versus 2 degrees Celsius — and the Group of Eight industrialized nations (G8) need to set firm commitments on reductions by 2020, says the chairman of the U.N. climate panel, reports Reuters.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. climate panel, told Reuters that the world’s poorest nations and small island states want rich countries to cap global warming at a 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) temperature rise over pre-industrial times, demanding that they cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as part of a U.N. pact to fight global warming.

These 80 countries warn that rising sea levels could wipe out low-lying atolls and that droughts, floods and heat waves could endanger the poorest people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Despite the appeal by poorer nations for larger cuts in GHG emissions by rich nations, their commitments are still far below the 45 percent reduction. As an example, new Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama recently pledged to pursue a greenhouse gas reduction target of 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, reports The Australian.

Still, the new target is much more ambitious than the 8 percent reduction set by the outgoing conservative government of Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Japan plans on presenting its target at international climate talks in Copenhagen in December, where Hatoyama will ask other major emitters to set tough targets, reports the newspaper.

However, Hatoyama and others who are calling for tougher targets may be facing an uphill battle. As an example, reports state that Canada won’t set emission caps for oil sands development, which is an energy-intensive segment. Caps will be implemented for all other industries, according to Digital Journal. Details of the proposed climate plan have not been released by the Canadian government.

Canadian exports of mineral fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — have been the largest source of carbon emissions in Canada, and there are no signs that Canada will adopt tough actions on climate change, reports Digital Journal.

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