February 26, 2009

Rich Nations To Cut Emissions Almost 15 Percent

As the impact of a global economic recession grows, many experts fear that rich nations may not set ambitious targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Developed nations have generally aimed toward a greenhouse gas reduction of 15 percent from current levels. However, scientists employed by the U.N. say a 15 percent goal will not suffice.

"We're beginning to see a rough alignment for the numbers for developed countries," Elliot Diringer of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Washington, told Reuters.

Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, insists that reductions by 15 percent by 2020 are "not enough if you look at what the science is saying."

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports a 25 percent to 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. If these goals are not reached, scientists warn of massive droughts, heatwaves, flooding and rising sea levels.

"The important thing now is finally to get all the industrialized country numbers on the table and then begin to compare the efforts of different countries and see if greater ambition can be achieved," de Boer told Reuters.

In 2007, the U.N. stated that rich nations should reach "comparable" goals to fight global warming. Analysts have responded that "comparable" is likely to be hard to define in the future as nations are slated to converge in Copenhagen for a December meeting to agree to a treaty prior to the Kyoto Protocol.

"Within certain limits, the measures will pay for themselves," Markus Amman of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, told Reuters.

US President Barack Obama has stated he wants emissions to return to 1990 levels by 2020, meaning that a cut of 14.3 percent from 2007 levels would be necessary.

Australia aims to cut by between five and 15 percent below 2000 levels and Canada by 20 below 2006, according to Reuters.

The European Union has set goals to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 "“ a 14.2 percent reduction from 2005 levels, the EU Commission said.

The IIASA calculator suggests that a 15 percent cut from 2005 levels would have "negligible" impact on developed nations' gross domestic product (GDP).

"The essential thing is to agree on clear targets because it is a prerequisite for creating a private market," Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark's prime minister, said last month during a meeting in Denmark.

"Policies we need to overcome financial crises are the same to combat climate change "¦ green efficiency is sound economics."

He said that the rich world should cut by 30 percent versus 1990 levels and developing countries by 15-30 percent against current trends by 2020.

"There is no contradiction between an ambitious climate policy and our endeavors to overcome the financial crisis," he said.


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