June 11, 2010

World Still On A Warming Trend

The Earth is heading for a 5.4-degree Fahrenheit warming trend by the year 2100 despite promises to curb carbon emissions, according to a study released during UN talks on Thursday.

Bill Hare of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said there is a "virtual certainty" that global warming will exceed 2.7 F by 2100. It could very likely exceed 3.6 F and there's a "more than 50-percent chance of exceeding 5.4 F by 2100."

Nearly 120 countries have signed up to take voluntary actions on greenhouse gases under last December's Copenhagen Accord, which aims to limit global warming.

Scientists say there is no consensus to base what is a safe level for warming, and some warn that a rise of even a few degrees could still have worldwide effects on ice and snow cover and rainfall patterns.

The new study looks at the promises, plans, proclamations and policy changes taken on since the Copenhagen summit.

The study rated China's contribution as "inadequate" but praised the country for boosting renewable energy. China -- the world's leading carbon polluter -- has seen its carbon emissions doubled from 1990 to 2005.

At the current rate of growth, China's carbon output would reach between 12.5 and 15 billion US tons per year by 2020, according to the new Climate Action Tracker analysis. If China can implement its policies, it can keep emissions under 10 billion tons annually.

The United States, the world's second biggest polluter of carbon emissions, would not meet acceptable carbon emissions even if it fulfills its promises, according to the report.

Only Norway and Japan are so far considered to be on a "sufficient" plan among industrialized countries. The European Union and Iceland could join them by deepening its planned emissions cuts from 20 percent to 30 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels.

Reducing emissions has become a greatly-criticized issue because of the cost of easing use of oil, gas and coal, the cheap and abundant fossil fuels that fulfills most of the world's energy needs.

Temperatures have already risen nearly 1.4 F since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, causing glacier melt, snow loss and retreating permafrost, as well as an acceleration in the rise of sea levels, according to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The analysis was written by experts with PIK, a German energy research company called Ecofys and Climate Analytics, a not-for-profit company which tracks policy commitments in climate change.

It was published on the second to last day of a 12-day round of talks in Bonn under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which seeks to guide 194 countries towards a post-2012 worldwide treaty.

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