On the eve of the historic United Nations climate change gathering in Copenhagen, Denmark, a top official with the world body today expressed confidence that the event will deliver a comprehensive and ambitious new deal.
The two-week talks are set to kick off tomorrow in the Danish capital, and by the end of the summit, Governments must adequately respond to the urgent challenge posed by climate change, said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“Negotiators now have the clearest signal ever from world leaders to craft solid proposals to implement rapid action,” he noted.
Mr. de Boer acknowledged the many pledges to slash reductions made by nations – both developed and developing – and underscored that there is an unprecedented political momentum to “seal the deal” on a new deal in Copenhagen, which will be the scene of the world's largest meeting on climate change ever, with over 100 Heads of State expected to attend.
“Never in 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together,” he said. “So whilst there will be more steps on the road to a safe climate future, Copenhagen is already a turning point in the international response to climate change.”
There are three layers of action, the official emphasized, that nations must agree on during the gathering: swift implementation of action on climate change ambitious commitments to curb emissions and a long-term shared vision of a low-emissions future for all.
Developed countries, he said, must provide at least $10 billion annually from next year through 2012 to help their developing counterparts plan and launch low emission growth and adaptation strategies, as well as to build internal capacity. Simultaneously, wealthier nations must also indicate how they will raise predictable and sustainable financing for the long term, as well as what their future commitments will be.
According to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized nations of between -25 and 40 per cent over 1990 levels is necessary by 2020 in order to avert the worst effects of climate change, with global emissions falling by at least 50 per cent by 2050.
A new report backed by the UN Environment Programme (http://www.unep.org/UNEP) has found that countries taking part in the Copenhagen summit, expected to draw over 15,000 people, may be closer than some might realize to agreeing to emissions cuts required to allow the world to prevent a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees centigrade.
The publication released today notes that the gap between countries' strongest proposed cuts and what is needed could only be a few billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The study was compiled by Lord Stern of Brentford, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with UNEP analysts.
To ward off a more than 2 degree temperature rise, it said that annual emissions in 2020 must not exceed more than 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent. The new analysis shows that the gap between this target and the most ambitious cuts suggested by nations in recent months is some 2 billon tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
The gap could be bridged in the Danish capital, the report suggests, by actions including additional reductions from deforestation and other sources slashing emissions from the aviation and shipping industries and key developing countries offering more than their current proposals.
“What we are presenting here is underpinned by numerous provisons – not least that serious and sustained funding is provided to assist countries like Brazil and Indonesia to achieve the high end of their new proposals, and that all nations deliver on their pledges and promises,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director.
The “central message,” he stressed, is that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees can be achieved in a cost-effective way with clearly-designed policies consistently applied across countries and industries and “can also set the stage for a low-carbon, resource-efficient 21st century Green Economy.”