Monday, July 6, 2009

Bid for pact on 2-degree warming

Adam Morton

The Age, July 7, 2009

The Climate Group Report can be downloaded here -

CLIMATE ministers from the world's biggest powers will today try to nail down an agreement that global warming should be limited to 2 degrees in a bid to stave off the worst climate change forecasts.

Meeting in Rome, representatives from 17 countries including Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will try to find common ground on "aspirational" greenhouse gas emissions targets — an 80 per cent cut by rich nations and 50 per cent across the globe by 2050.

The talks are a prelude to a three-hour meeting of the leaders of the 17 members of the Major Economies Forum in L'Aquila, Italy, on Thursday.

Chaired by US President Barack Obama and attended by the countries responsible for three-quarters of annual emissions, the forum is being held on the sidelines of the G8 summit and is considered vital to provide guidance to United Nations negotiations over a climate treaty.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair yesterday pressured leaders to strongly back existing climate solutions to reach short-term targets.

Launching a report by his office and the Climate Group, titled Breaking the Climate Deadlock, Mr Blair said 70 per cent of the emissions cuts needed by 2020 could be made by ramping up seven proven policies.

They include introducing targets or household subsidies for renewable energy, massively increasing energy efficiency in lighting, cars and buildings, and ending rainforest logging.

"This is now at the stage where it's been taken out of the hands of campaigners and (put) into the hands of the people who are going to have to get the job done," Mr Blair told the BBC.

Senator Wong last night arrived in Rome for the latest in a string of ministerial-level meetings to work up an agreement to be discussed by leaders.

A draft statement hatched last month is understood to have supported annual global emissions peaking by 2020 and acknowledged that climate scientists have advised that the rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels should not top 2 degrees.

Australia backs the push to limit warming to 2 degrees, or stabilise atmospheric carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million. Global average temperatures are now about 0.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Although long the aim of the European Union, the 2-degree goal has not been accepted by the US and many developing countries.

The draft included joint aspirational targets for 2050, but did not specify a baseline year against which cuts would be measured.

Targets for 2020 — key to the Copenhagen negotiations — were missing. Parts of the draft are being challenged by some developing nations.


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