The top climate official for the United Nations said she was frustrated by how far behind major economic powers were in addressing the warnings from the scientific community. World leaders gathered this week in Doha are debating the steps needed to secure a low-carbon future for developing countries while major economies address how to cut back on their own industrial emissions. The top negotiator from the United States, the world's leading economy, said talks at Doha should be based on "real world" considerations, though the bickering in the wings suggests it's the political rhetoric that's the real concern when it comes to climate talks.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries wrap up climate talks in Doha later this week. U.N.-efforts there are aimed to curbing global warming that a recent World Bank report said may be accelerating at an alarming pace. Environmental ministers in Doha said more effort is needed to keep global greenhouse emissions below the danger zone. Some countries, however, are balking at the move, saying leading economies aren't serious about setting their own thresholds.
"What gives me frustration is the fact that we are very far behind what science tells us we should be doing," said U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.
Last week, the World Meteorological Organization said the nine-month period ending with October was the warmest on record. The global land and ocean surface temperature, the WMO said, was about 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.45°C) above what was reported for 1961-1990. The World Bank, in a 104-page report issued last month, warned that global average temperatures are on pace to climb even more "even if countries fulfill current emissions-reduction pledges."
Beijing said that, by the end of last year, alternatives to fossil fuels made up 8 percent of the country's total energy consumption. By 2020, that's expected to increase to 15 percent. A weekend report from the Global Carbon Project, however, said Chinese emissions are on the rise and make up 28 percent of the world's total CO2 pollution.
Todd Sterns, the U.S. climate negotiator in Doha, said any new deal on climate must be based on a "real world" scenario and not some vague scenario where negotiators "draw a line down the middle of the world."
In the United States, however, some leading lawmakers are speaking out against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for pushing regulations they say are hurting the economy. EPA critics blame the White House for consistently blocking efforts to "grow our economy by producing more American-made energy." The U.S. economy, however, is at risk because of protracted political bickering over a series of tax benefits set to expire at year's end.
China has said that, despite its vast wealth, a modest environmental regime is needed to ensure a low-carbon future is economically sustainable. With 16-percent of the global CO2 footprint, meanwhile, Sterns said any sort of major agreement at Doha would be an enormous challenge given that "there are a lot of entrenched interest" to consider. But with grain harvests in decline because of drought and storm intensity increasing because of warmer ocean temperatures, that's precisely what the environmental science community, as well as the EU's Figueres, say is needed.
"I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory, said Corinne Le Quere, co-author of the emissions report."We need a radical plan."
By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com