COP15: The bright side of life
8 December: After one day of mainly plenary sessions, the Copenhagen COP15 ran into technical details and working groups today. Yesterday’s key note speeches from people like the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and COP President Connie Hedegaard expressed hope.
Meanwhile the public (at least according to a recent Dutch television poll) is still very pessimistic on the outcome.
Call from America
Coinciding with the start of COP15 yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that it officially declared greenhouse gases as a threat to human health. In practice, this declaration provides EPA with the legal weapons to fight CO2 emissions. It puts some more pressure on the Senate, which is still discussing a Climate Bill. More skeptical: it is one of the few formal decisions that the US can exhibit to show its good intentions.
UNFCCC boss Yvo de Boer is still looking on the bright side of life. In today’s press briefing he called all participants to prepare as many details as they can in the first week, “on mitigation, adaptation, technologies, financing, capacity building and forests.” They have 6 days before the ministers of environment, climate or energy will arrive (on Sunday). On their turn the ministers will have two days to prepare for their heads of state. “Undoubtedly some topics will have to be left for ministers to resolve, like the rich countries targets and the question of finance,” De Boer said.
By the way, during the press briefing the former Dutch civil servant De Boer slightly misquoted his former Dutch State Secretary of Housing. He quoted: “You cannot live in policy statements.” But back in the seventies, the guy (Jan Schaefer) really said: “You cannot live in bullshit.” Meaning very much the same, but in less diplomatic wording…
+2° or +3.5° C?
Just after the Climate Action Tracker showed a 3.5° temperature rise of the accumulated 192 pledges, Sir Nicholas Stern and UNEP showed a more positive view. In a study released on Sunday, Lord Stern and UNEP analysts say that “countries may be closer than some observers realise to agreeing the emissions cuts required to give the world a reasonable chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2°C.”
Lord Stern concluded that current pledges in 2020 will just be two billion tonnes of CO2 above the threshold of 44 billion tonnes, which provides a 50% chance of not exceeding the 2° C. Looking more closely into the matter, the difference seems a matter of conservative (Tracker) versus more optimistic (Stern) accounting of the countries’ bids.
My recommendation: let’s not rely on targets too much. It matters more what actions will be taken, for instance in financing the developing world’s actions or taking actions in sustainable energy. In the end I believe that sustainable technologies like renewable energy, energy efficiency and materials savings will prove themselves as the most economical and viable solution for every problem. We’re just too much set in fossil habits. I expect that all the attention for Copenhagen and thereafter will reveal that to us.
Some further interesting topics
Posted 10/12/2009 by Rolf de Vos
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