November 26, 2013
The 19th climate conference in Warsaw will be remembered for not having brought Humanity any closer to a successful climate accord. Posterity will recall it more for discord than agreement: discord with Australia, Japan and Poland for backtracking on their climate targets and walk-out of the environment associations for lack of progress towards the signature of an effective global climate deal in Paris in November 2015.
Humanity has only 700 days to negotiate and sign the most difficult international treaty ever that will be decisive for the survival of Humanity on our tiny and fragile planet.
After Warsaw it can no longer afford to waste a single day.
UN climate officials need to prepare a draft. In conformity with the invitation the UN Secretary General has addressed to the heads of government for the New York meeting it must be bold.
The treaty should be concise and focused on reducing green house gas emissions.
All countries must sign and ratify it. Humanity cannot afford another failure like the Kyoto Protocol.
Humanity must commit to emit no more green house gases than the planet can absorb without raising the average temperature by more than two centigrade compared to 1990. This has been agreed by the international community, but now it must be translated in effective actions.
The cumulative volume of greenhouse gases that the earth is able to absorb without a climate catastrophe must be specified in the Treaty. There is so little scope left for additional emission that the IPCC as a neutral body will have to attribute “residual emission quotas”to all countries on the basis of their 2015 per capita GDP and their cumulative C02 emissions since 1850.
On their own governments will not come forward with the necessary volumes of reduction necessary for keeping the earth cool enough to preserve Humanity from the worst damages.
But as the Warsaw Conference has invited all countries to announce their “contributions” during the first quarter of 2015, let them do their homework and then compare the outcome with the results calculated in parallel by the IPCC.
The EU should set an example of punctuality and substance,repeating its 2050 target of reducing its C02 emissions by 80 per cent over 1990. In order to underline its seriousness it should also enumerate the actions it commits to take to that end. This will be anything but simple!
In 2014 and 2015 we shall witness endless showdowns between “poor” and “rich”, fossil-rich and fossil-poor countries. Many will try to gain time, though time will work against all. The “poor” countries will remain more interested in maximising the contents of climate funds,while “rich” countries, including the EU, will ask for restraint.
The EU will be rather lonely if it keeps pushing for effective action.
It is in a comfortable situation, as it will be less hurt by climate change than most other parts of earth. Moreover, it is better prepared for putting in place alternative energy systems. Its high standard of living and stable population also enables it to do with present and even lower levels of income, energy consumption and emissions.
This being said, the top priority for the outgoing Commission should be to clarify the options for the EU and the international community in view of being fully prepared for the 2014 Climate Summit, the Lima COP 20 and the decisive Paris COP 20. These issues should override all other short and medium-term questions that the EU will also be confronted with.
Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 14/11/2013Author : Eberhard Rhein