John Lanchbery, RSPB Principle Climate Change Adviser brings us up to date with the latest climate negotiations from Bonn...
In a month from now, World leaders will meet at a UN conference of parties (COP) in Paris. They are set to agree a new global treaty to both combat and adapt to climate change.
It will update and largely replace the old UN climate agreements, agreed in 1992 in Rio and 1997 in Kyoto. But will the new global deal really be an improvement?
The World has changed a lot since Rio and Kyoto. The greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have risen rapidly over the last twenty years, no longer caused predominantly by the developed countries but by the emerging economies too. China overtook the USA as the World’s biggest emitter some years ago.
We are on track for the average temperature of Earth to rise by about 4 degrees C, twice the globally agreed UN goal of staying below two degrees.
To put this in context, 4 degrees C is roughly the difference between the peak and trough of a major ice age, except that the temperature will just go upwards. We have already used up two thirds of the global carbon budget consistent with staying below two degrees and need to cut emissions rapidly to zero by mid-century.
Fortunately, nearly all government realise our predicament and have committed to tackle climate change together, a big change from Rio and Kyoto.
More than 140 nations accounting for 90% of all emissions have pledged to cut or limit their emissions. However, taken together these pledges are unlikely to keep temperature rise to less than three degrees, let alone two. The Paris treaty needs to rectify this situation by including a ratchet to decrease emissions further every five years.
The long series of negotiations leading to the Paris meeting finished last week in Bonn. There is now a draft treaty that all governments feel that they "own". This which will be given to ministers and leaders to complete in Paris.
The draft contains many options, some good, some bad. If leaders choose the best options then we will have a pretty good treaty. We will know in six weeks time.
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