Copenhagen failure casts long shadow over Cancun

The failure to get global leaders to agree to a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen has jeopardised chances of stabilising and cutting emissions levels, according to a new report.

The Copenhagen Accord was hastily patched to together at the end of COP15, but then British climate change minister Ed Miliband was not alone in branding it ‘disappointing.’

The agreement does set strong targets but as none of them are legally binding, countries are not implementing them.

This is among the findings of a new report released today (November 23) compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and jointly authored by more than 30 leading scientists from numerous international research institutes.

The report says in order to have a ‘likely’ and cost-effective chance of pegging temperatures to two degrees celsius or below over the 21st Century, global emissions will need to have peaked within the next 10 years and be around 44 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020.

The report claims under a ‘business-as-usual scenario’ annual emissions of greenhouse gases could be around 56 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

However, according to the report, fully implementing the pledges under the Copenhagen Accord could, in the best case scenario, cut emissions to around 49 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

As a point of reference global emissions were estimated to be around 48 gigatonnes in 2009.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said, “I encourage all parties to make good on their national mitigation pledges, and to further progress within the negotiations as well as through strengthened efforts on the ground to curb emissions.

“There is no time to waste. By closing the gap between the science and current ambition levels, we can seize the opportunity to usher in a new era of low-carbon prosperity and sustainable development for all.

“Nations have the chance to deliver almost 60% of the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperatures under a two degrees celsius rise, but only if the pledges made last year in Copenhagen are fully met.”

The findings are launched in advance of the UN climate convention meeting in Cancun, Mexico, also called COP16, to spotlight the size of the ’emissions gap’ between where nations might be in 2020 versus where the science indicates they need to be.

Luke Walsh

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