Instead, observes Greenpeace News, the pledges of the main polluters seem to be toward devastation of the existing climate. Greenpeace draws such an inference from the kind of targets that those with a big carbon footprint are promising, ones that avoid reduction of human-caused global warming pollution significantly enough to steer away from climate catastrophe.
Source: The Third Degree.
“While three degrees of warming would likely be catastrophic. But even 2 degrees C risks possible partial, but irreversible de-glaciation of the Greenland ice sheet and even the West Antarctic ice sheet, that could eventually lead to sea level rise of several meters. Half-of-one degree more could lead to 20-80% loss of the Amazon rain forest and countless species that live in the rain forest.”
The only way the Copenhagen Accord could possibly be a useful political declaration was if its January 31st deadline had been met with tougher new greenhouse gas emission targets. After all, its stated goal is supposed to be to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
But governments tried to green wash their failure at the UN Copenhagen climate summit by merely repeating existing targets and dressing them up as action. So far, these targets will fail to hold global warming to below 3 degrees C; an increase which threatens to have horrendous consequences.
For instance, as HuffPo contributor Gazelle Emami has observed, Canada’s pledge to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions actually represents an increase of 2.5% over the 1990 baseline.
Greenpeace International glumly notes that “the European Union repeated its target of a 20 percent emissions cut against 1990 levels – old news, and only half of what is required.”
“The US is sticking by the meagre 17 percent of 2005 levels but making that dependent of domestic legislation.” To give teeth to any new international agreement on climate change, observes Greenpeace, “it must be set in a legally binding agreement.”
The other major polluter, China, insists that any reductions will be voluntary. As HuffPo contributor John Heilprin reports, the United Nations warns that while the goals on reducing greenhouse gases announced by major industrialized nations are a step forward, they are insufficient to forestall the disastrous effects of climate change by mid-century.
By 2020, industrialised nations must cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels and developing countries need to reduce their projected growth in emissions by 15-30%. Further, the industrialised world needs to provide developing countries with new and additional funding of at least USD 140 billion annually to support clean energy and other mitigation activities, forest protection and adaptation.
It is the poorest and those least responsible for causing the problem who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The fight for survival of millions of people around the world and countless species of plants and animals is the brutal reality as permafrost melts, sea levels rise, tropical storms batter continents and once-fertile lands battle with floods or drought. But climate change knows no borders – we will all feel its impacts. It threatens economies, environments, human society and welfare.
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