Closing the Gigatonne gap with low carbon development strategies

Closing the Gigatonne gap with low carbon development strategies

An analysis released yesterday demonstrates how waiting to take on deeper greenhouse gas reduction pledges will make it far more costly to avoid dangerous global warming. This reemphasises the message of the UNEP ‘bridging the gap’ report (being presented today by Achim Steiner in Durban). It shows that current pledges will not lead to limiting climate change below 2 degrees, but there are several options to close the gap.

Parties in the Kyoto Protocol already have obligations through 2012, but a host of accounting loopholes have led to an excess of paper credits compared to real reductions. And the pledges for 2020, some of which are already law as in the EU, are commitments determined nationally, without a global approach to ensuring the adequacy of commitments at a collective level.

Tackling the inadequacy of commitments was noted indistinctly in the Cancun agreement. Adding specifics is the subject of several separate parts of the negotiating text under discussion in Durban.  Predictably, the US wants nothing to come of it in the convention text. Small island states are pushing to have a proper consideration. The EU is being cautious in the Kyoto Protocol discussions because it realizes that if it is all but isolated in a second Kyoto period, adequacy reviews could be focused on them.  And developing countries by and large are protecting the strict division in levels and nature of effort between developing and developed countries, to the point that many are willing to side-step a proper consideration of the gap at global level.

A new WWF report hopes to cut through the posturing by demonstrating how all countries, developed and developing, can play a role according to their respective responsibilities and capabilities.  Planning development in a carbon constrained world outlines the role of low carbon development plans, with case studies from Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Scotland, South Africa and the UK.

In Durban, it is essential that the splits among parties trying to protect their own interests doesn’t hinder recognising the gap and resolving to tackle it in a timely fashion. As the Marshall Islands said in a negotiating session yesterday, if we are mandated to investigate whether current pledges are inadequate, it’s pretty obvious the next step is to figure out how to tackle this fact, otherwise what are they all doing there?

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