Friday, February 13, 2015

New Global Warming Goal Is Goal of Talks

U.N. climate negotiations in Geneva this week. (Credit: UN Geneva/Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
One of the main issues under negotiation during U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Geneva this week is a potential new global climate target — something more tangible for policy makers than the 2°C goal, with progress that’s easier to track.

“The good news in this discussion is that negotiators are talking about goals framed in terms that policy makers can actually control,” David Victor, a professor of international relations at the University of California at San Diego, said.  “I think the negotiations should start looking at baskets of goals.”

Victor and Charles Kennel, director emeritus at the  Scripps Institution of Oceanography, triggered substantial debate after they wrote an essay, published by Nature in October, arguing that “the 2°C goal is wrong-headed,” because “there are better ways to measure the stress” that humans place on the climate.  “Some of the backlash from 'denialists' is partly rooted in policy-makers' obsession with global temperatures that do not actually move in lockstep with the real dangers of climate change,” they wrote.

The new climate goal might be to end most fossil fuel burning by 2050, reducing climate-changing impacts that year by as much as 95 percent compared with 2010.  That’s among the options spelled out in a U.N. document that’s being negotiated, which is expected to be finalized during end-of-year talks in Paris.
Another option being considered would be to set a goal that requires a hasty end to the growth in the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that’s added each year to the atmosphere.  That would resemble a pledge made recently by China to peak its annual pollution level by 2030.

Some say that would be the most pragmatic of the options, because it would provide a comparatively immediate target — something that could help invoke a sense of urgency. “There are a handful of things the world can do in the next five years that can let us peak, and turn the corner,” the Environmental Defense Fund’s international climate vice president Nathaniel Keohane said, pointing to opportunities to reform electricity generation in China and the U.S., and to curb deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia.

Read more at New Global Warming Goal Is Goal of Talks

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