Defusing the time bomb

Mail and Guardian — 26 Nov 2010

Climate change is a priority on the South African government’s agenda. For the full article, click here.

SA gears up for a greener economy

Mail and Guardian — 26 Nov 2010

South Africa’s international commitments and direction towards cleaner energy options. For full article click here

A New Report – ‘The Emission Gap Report: Are the Copenhagen Pledges Sufficient to Limit Global Warming to 2°C or 1.5°C?’

Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges but also an inordinate opportunity to catalyze a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economy.

This report informs governments and the wider community on how far a response to climate change has progressed over the past 12 months, and thus how far the world is on track to meet wider goals.

The pledges associated with the Copenhagen Accord of 2009 are the point of departure for this report. What might be achieved in terms of limiting a global temperature rise to 2ºC or less in the 21st century and in terms of setting the stage for a Green Economy?

And what remains to be done – what is the gap between scientific reality and the current level of ambition of nations? The analysis focuses on where global emissions need to be in around ten years time to be in line with what the science says is consistent with the 2°C or 1.5°C limits, and where we expect to be as a result of the pledges.

If the highest ambitions of all countries associated with the Copenhagen Accord are implemented and supported, annual emissions of greenhouse gases could be cut, on average, by around 7 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

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‘UN issues severe climate warning ahead of summit’

The world is now firmly on the path for dangerous climate change in the coming century, a major new assessment reveals today on the eve of the forthcoming UN climate conference which opens next week in Mexico.

All the pledges of the nations which have agreed to cut or limit their emissions of greenhouse gases, when added together, still leave the world far short of what is needed to halt the coming rise in global average temperatures to 2C, generally regarded as the danger threshold, according to the study from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The study sets a gloomy context for the international climate meeting opening on Monday in the Mexican resort of Cancun, which is the successor meeting to the abortive Copenhagen climate conference of last year.

Copenhagen dashed many hopes when the countries of the world failed to agree new legally binding targets to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases in an attempt to keep global warming under control. However, a last-minute agreement was patched up, known as the Copenhagen Accord, under which nations could voluntarily pledge targets or other actions to get their emissions down.

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‘China says it is world’s top greenhouse gas emitter’

Engineering News, 23 November 2010

China acknowledged on Tuesday it is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases stoking global warming, confirming what scientists have said for years but defending its right to keep growing emissions.

China’s chief negotiator in international climate change talks, Xie Zhenhua, made the comment while spelling out his government’s position ahead of negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 over a new global pact to fight global warming.

Scientists and overseas bodies have said that since 2006-2007, China’s greenhouse gas pollution has surpassed the United States’, the world’s top emitter for the 20th century.

But until now Beijing has hedged. Its officials have said it may possibly be the top emitter, that the issue needs more study or that average emissions per capita is a fairer measure to guide policy.

“Now we stand at world number one in emissions volumes,” Xie told a news conference in Beijing.

Rich countries should nevertheless lead with steep cuts in their emissions, said Xie, since over time they have contributed most to the build-up of greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat in the atmosphere, and they should give poorer countries room to grow their economies and emissions.

“China is taking steps in the hope that we can peak (in emissions) as early as possible,” he said.

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Watch Tim Jackson’s Economic Reality Check

As the world faces recession, climate change, inequity and more, Tim Jackson delivers a piercing challenge to established economic principles, explaining how we might stop feeding the crises and start investing in our future.

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‘US seeks trust, not caps, in Cancun climate talks’

Reuters, 19 November 2010

WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (Reuters) – The Obama administration, weakened by political setbacks, will likely limit its role in global climate talks this month to building trust with other big polluters rather than blazing an ambitious path on binding carbon emissions cuts.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a climate bill this summer and Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in November elections, putting out of reach any big moves by President Barack Obama to tackle global warming until at least 2013.

That means U.S. climate negotiators at the talks, being held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 in Cancun, Mexico, lack the bargaining chips to demand that rapidly developing countries like China and India agree to binding emissions cuts.

The United States could concentrate on trying to loosen its deadlock with China on how to share the economic burden of cutting carbon emissions by teaming up with growing U.S. ally India to put pressure on Beijing.

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