"A new degree of collective ambition and cooperation will be required before the world sees a climate agreement consistent with limited warming to even 2C let alone the 1.5C goal named by a growing number of governments and civil society groups," said Elizabeth Sawin of Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vermont, referring to a push at Copenhagen by the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and 48 developing nations for a deal that limits temperature rises to 1.5C.
"The situation is serious. An increase of temperature of more than 1C above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones," said Bolivian foreign minister minister, David Choquehuanca, responding to the US study. Scientists are agreed that an overall rise of 2C in world temperatures would be serious for food production, species loss and freshwater supplies. But anything over 3C would lead to the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, crippling water shortages across South America and Australia and the near-extinction of tropical coral reefs, they have said.
The low end of the reduction proposals made by governments at Copenhagen would deliver a reduction of only 2 billion tonnes by 2020, and the best would be nine billion tonnes. However, at least 13-17 billion tonnes of reductions are needed to have more than an even chance of limiting warming to 2C.They said that only two out of 10 developed countries' reduction targets submitted to the Copenhagen accord qualify as "sufficient" to keep global temperature rise below 2C.
In the lead, said the European researchers, were the Maldives and Costa Rica, which have proposed to become "climate-neutral" by around 2020. Also at the ambitious end of the scale are Norway, Japan and Brazil, which are proposing to reduce their emissions significantly.