Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Tired of all the bad news from the Gulf of Mexico? Well, let's change the channel and look at what's happening in Bonn, where the UN is holding its latest climate change meeting. This is a follow-up session to last December's Copenhagen gathering, where the United States, China, and other major emitters of global warming gases banged out a last-minute accord separate from the UN proceedings. Under that deal, these nations (developed and developing) pledged to make voluntary emissions cuts in line with keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. Throughout the Copenhagen negotiations, island nations and many countries in the developing world, particularly African states, had called for binding cuts with a 1.5-degrees Celsius target, contending that anything above that would mean catastrophe for them. But the major polluters ignored their demand, saying essentially, "we'll cut what we can to reach 2 degrees." And they came up with an international registry, where nations would state their reductions pledges.
No surprise, this may not work. Research released today by three climate groups—the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Ecofys, and Climate Analytics—suggest, as they put it, that "current pledges by countries around the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficient to keep global temperature rises below the 2°C agreed in the Copenhagen Accord." These research outfits note that
even if Nations go further than they did in Copenhagen and agree to halve emissions by 2050, there would still be about a 50% chance that warming exceeds 2°C and it would almost certainly exceed 1.5°C, which is the target set by the Small Island States and Least Developed countries. This is a stark finding given that it is probable that nations will only meet the lower ends of their emissions pledges.
In other words, oh boy. Such research only sets up a bigger fight to come in Cancun at the end of the year, when the nations of the world are supposed to complete the unfinished work of Copenhagen.