Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:01

Copenhagen Update: Is 2 Degrees Possible?

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Today, the US pledged to support a fund of up to $100 Billion annually to help developing nations adapt to and mitigate climate change. This staggering financial figure has been a major stumbling block for the negotiations so far, and the US committment (as well as that from other governments, such as the European Union and Japan) should show the world that the developed nations are willing to bend to get a deal done. But on the same day that progress was made, some stunning news was leaked, and then confirmed. Efforts of the Copenhagen climate meeting, if implemented, would lead to an increase in temperatures of 3 degrees C, not 2 degrees C as initially anticipated. According to a posting in the News section of the COP15 website, this could cause:
...a warming of three or four degrees Celsius will result in tens to hundreds of millions more people being flooded each year due to rising sea levels. "There will be serious risks and increasing pressures for coastal protection in Southeast Asia (Bangladesh and Vietnam), small islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and large coastal cities, such as Tokyo, New York, Cairo and London,"
Does this mean that the yet to be agreed upon targets are too weak? Probably. But should we throw the baby out with the bath water? Absolutely not. We have done nothing for too long, and as the whole world knows the time for action is now. I think that all of us that understand the sciene want ambitious action now and a zero carbon world in the near future. But that was never really in the cards. One of the best outcomes of Copenhagen may be that for the first time ever, the entire world may finally be able to agree on something having to do with carbon emissions. Whether that is codifying the rules for forest protection or coming to an accord on real emissions reductions targets - the agreement is what matters. Targets can be strenghtened and improved. But if the fear of doing too little leads us to doing nothing, then this conference will be viewed as a failure by many. (Image Courtesy of the AP)
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