TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb10/13)
12 February 2010
Third World Network

Accord in line with 3.9 degree warming, say US researchers
Published in SUNS #6862 dated 12 February 2010

Geneva, 11 Feb (Meena Raman) -- A team of US researchers has found that the pledges submitted under the Copenhagen Accord are in line with a global temperature rise of 3.9 degrees Celsius, which is a level that scientists consider to be disastrous for the environment and human life.

An analysis done by researchers from the Sustainability Institute (a non-profit organisation in the US that is involved in simulation modeling of climate change), the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Ventana Systems (a company involved in building simulation models) concludes that "emissions reduction pledges submitted under the Copenhagen Accord process fall short of the level of greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial temperatures. Instead, the proposals, if fully implemented, would allow global mean temperature to increase approximately 3.9 degrees Celsius."

The researchers concluded that to reach the Copenhagen Accord goal (i. e. that global warming be limited to 2 degrees Celsius), global emissions must peak within the next decade and fall to at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The estimates of the US researchers are more pessimistic than those in two other recent studies.

The research groups, Ecofys, Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute, in a statement released on 2 February, assessed the pledges made by both developed and developing countries so far, and concluded that they add up to a level of emissions in 2020 that would be in line with a global temperature rise of over 3 degrees Celsius.

Another analysis of the pledges of only developed countries done by the US-based World Resources Institute concluded that the pledges fall "far short of the range of emission reductions - 25 to 40% - that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes would be necessary for stabilizing concentrations of CO2 equivalent at 450 ppm, a level associated with a 26 to 78% risk of overshooting a 2 degree Celsius goal." (See SUNS #6860 dated 10 February 2010).

According to a 4 February press release by the Sustainability Institute, researchers analysed the pledges by countries that were submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) till 2 February 2010.

The analysis, based on computer simulation of climate change, assumes that the goals for emissions reductions pledged by nations in their submissions are fully achieved and that loopholes (such as double counting of offsets or the selling of surplus emissions quotas) do not occur.

"Simulation of the emissions reductions pledges contained within letters submitted to the UNFCCC show a large gap between the 2 degree target and current pledges. Using the simulation, the researchers estimate that current pledges would allow global mean temperature to increase by 3.9 degrees Celsius by 2100," according to the press release.

(The Copenhagen Accord adopted the "scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius".)

"Under the current proposals submitted to the UNFCCC, global emissions of greenhouse gasses would increase on average 0.8% per year between now and 2020. After 2020, emissions would need to fall at a rate of approximately 3.3% per year to achieve the goal of reducing emissions 60% below current levels by 2050. The Copenhagen Accord does not include commitments or means to achieve these reductions," stated the press release.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Sawin of the Sustainability Institute, "Without deeper near term emissions reductions and an explicit commitment to longer term global emissions reductions, the Copenhagen Accord leaves the task of creating a global framework to prevent dangerous interference with the Earth's climate unfinished."

"A new degree of collective ambition and cooperation will be required before the world sees a climate agreement consistent with limiting warming to even 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the 1.5 degree Celsius goal named by a growing number of governments and civil society groups," she added. +