Friday, November 27, 2015

Paris Talks Could Improve Climate Pledges

Wind energy produces nearly no greenhouse gas pollution. (Credit: NREL) Click to Enlarge.
The way that countries will move together to act on climate in the coming years may start to become clear during the next two weeks in Paris, which is hosting what could be the most important round of United Nations climate negotiations in history.

Following years of failed efforts to force specific climate pollution reductions on developed countries, most nations completed unprecedented climate assignments this year, which they submitted to the U.N.  They drafted climate pledges, which are known as intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs.  These INDCs describe high-level, but mostly underwhelming, targets for reducing or easing the amount of climate pollution that's being released.

“The INDCs have lots of flaws right now,” said David Victor, a University of California at San Diego international relations professor who researches climate diplomacy.  “They are a start.”

Next, governments aim to work together to build their climate pledges into a fragmented but cohesive global plan for slowing global warming and, to a lesser extent, for adapting to it.

That work begins Sunday with the start of this year’s major session of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.  One of the key issues to be decided is how and when the INDCs will be reviewed.  Some are proposing reviews of INDCs every three to five years, making the pledges relatively dynamic, helping them keep pace with energy industry advances.  Others favor a more measured approach — perhaps with once-in-a-decade reviews for some or all pledges.
While the pledges and approaches differ substantially, a collective examination of them makes it clear they won’t be enough to avoid dangerous levels of warming.
“If the current targets are locked in through 2030, then we have a major problem,” said Jake Schmidt, who monitors climate negotiations for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.

Countries were “conservative” in setting their targets, Schmidt said.  “Technology development, implementation ability, and political will etc., will make it easier for them to do more before 2030 than they could envision at this moment.”

Read more at Paris Talks Could Improve Climate Pledges

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