April 22, 2010

Scientists: Copenhagen Accord Doomed To Fail

The loose framework and "unambitious" carbon-cutting pledges of the Copenhagen accord means that the treaty will more than likely fail to reach its target of limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), claim Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) members.

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the online journal Nature, PIK researchers Joeri Rogelj, Malte Meinshausen, and their colleagues say that it is more likely that the average worldwide climate will increase by a minimum 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. In fact, the study places the odds of that happening at "greater than 50-percent."

Furthermore, they claim that "nations will probably meet only the lower ends of their emissions pledges in the absence of a binding international agreement," that worldwide emissions could increase by 20-percent over the next 10 years, and even if countries agreed to reduce emissions by half within the next 40 years, "there is still a 50% chance that warming will exceed 2°C."

The Copenhagen Accord, which was put together on the final day of the 2009 summit, has been approved by 120 countries. While it established the 2 degrees Celsius goal, it drew criticism for not setting time limits or milestones along the way, and was enacted on a strictly volunteer basis.

It has also created tension between developing and developed nations over how much of a burden the wealthier countries should bear for the enactment of anti-climate change policy. The next round of United Nations-led climate negotiations is set for December 2010 in Cancun, and according to what Meinshausen told BBC News, it will feature very important negotiations.

"In an ideal world, if you pull off every possible emission reduction from the year 2021 onwards, you can still get to get to 2C if you're lucky," Meinshausen said. "But it is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it."


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Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

United Nations Climate Change Framework