Just days before the Copenhagen climate talks, several large developing nations have indicated they have limits on what they’ll accept. Most notably, China, India, Brazil and South Africa want rich nations to make more substantive cuts before they agree to the draft text, reports Reuters.
The four nations rejected three key aspects of the draft text: to cut global GHG emissions in half by 2050, to set a 202o deadline for peak global emissions, and to halt global warming at 2 degrees Celcius above the pre-industrial era.
Because most developed countries aren’t offering to cut as much as the draft calls for, South Africa should not be expected to do so, its chief climate negotiator said.
Just last week, China said it would cut its “carbon intensity” or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. This follows the U.S. pledge to cut GHG emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.
Just days before that, President Barack Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao agreed to a wide ranging package of programs and initiatives on the climate.
A leading NASA scientist suggests that it might not be such a bad thing if the climate talks collapse.
James Hansen, who leads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said that any agreement to come out of Copenhagen is likely to be “deeply flawed” and that it would be better to start over, reports Reuters.
A political agreement without legally binding targets means that it will be Kyoto all over again, Hansen said, adding that nations “will spend years trying to determine exactly what (the agreement) means.”
Hansen said that carbon markets and cap-and-trade will not be effective. Instead he preferes a straight tax on energy use.
There has been much discourse in the past week over whether climate scientists colluded to present biased evidence.
Now, Germany’s top climate researcher said he hopes that scientists have got it wrong, saying he takes no pleasure in being a “prophet of doom,” Reuters reports.
“I would be delighted if it turns out that we haven’t understood the system as well as we think we do and that we might get a 20- to 30-year ‘breathing period’ when global warming slows or is even halted,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters.
Schellnhuber said he wished the recent brouhaha over leaked e-mails were just “scare-mongering,” but instead he noted that the scientific dialogue on climate change has been constructed to “ensure the greatest credibility.”
“No one goes into science to earn a lot of money or to become famous or to meet beautiful women,” he said. “People go into science because they’re interested in finding the truth. It’s total nonsense (to accuse scientists of scare-mongering).”