Rhein on Energy and Climate

Perfectly timed, one week before the start of the 18th international Climate Conference in Doha, the World Bank issued a dire warning that, without rapid and comprehensive action by the world community, Humanity will have to face a 4°C warmer world by the end of the century.

This warning comes only four years after the world community had agreed in Copenhagen on the objective of containing global warming below 2°C and developing countries keep insisting on an even more ambitious objective of only +1.5°C warming.

The 65 page report, produced by the “Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics”, analyses the impact of climate change on agriculture, sea level, health, water resources, droughts, bio-systems and tropical cyclones. It concludes that developing countries are likely to be most affected by climate change,wiping out many of the positive effects of development assistance.

Similar projections have been published during the last 12 months, including the the new Report to the Club of Rome by Jorgen Randers. But now the World Bank takes ownership by issuing the severest warning ever to the international community to get serious about climate change.

The World Bank abstains from proposing remedies how to “turn down the heat”. Its purpose is to shock: we have to prepare for six times faster warming than during the last century during which global temperatures have only risen by 0.7°C!

But will the shock be sufficient to radically change the mood in Doha next week? Will the 200 delegations wake up from their lethargy?

Will the delegates from developing countries join hands in “forcing” the main polluter countries – China, USA, EU. Japan, Russia, Korea, India, Brazil, Australia, GCC, Canada – to commit to effective action? Or will the Conference continue in “trivial pursuit” of the Kyoto Protocol that has become irrelevant, or the Fund for Climate Change that should be put in place only after the parties have concluded an effective agreement on reducing C02 emissions?

Doha should focus on the substance of a comprehensive international climate treaty to be signed before 2015. China, USA and EU, jointly accounting for more than two thirds of global C02 emissions, will have to take the lead and submit a first draft agreement by July 2013.

To this end, the EU should engage in active climate diplomacy with China and USA. It possesses the longest experience in the field and should therefore be able to mediate between the two opposing climate super-powers.

Whatever the outcome from Doha, as long as political leaders around the world, especially in rich countries, lack the courage of inducing their citizens to reduce the consumption of fossil energy and switch to renewable sources by imposing substantially higher levies on fossil energy, Humanity will not come to terms with climate change.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels.

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