Shakes Magic 8-Ball “Outlook not so good.” In a devastating policy outlook update, Derek Spence of the IISD, offers perspective on the upcoming COP17, which will be held this December in Durban, South Africa.
Recall that recent climate commitments achieved at the COP15 in Copenhagen, and the COP16 in Cancun were discussed just a few weeks ago at the Bonn Climate Conference held in Germany (a summary of the Bonn conference is here).
Spence writes that countries are more than reluctant to re-up on Kyoto. This is interesting, since many countries have agreed to dedicate billions to various emissions reduction and adaptation projects that were finalized at the previous COP15 and COP16. Are world leaders experiencing a sort of moral hazard, or false sense of security as a result? In other words, since these policies are in place, perhaps leaders do not see the need to re-up on Kyoto. (Note: A summary of the commitments are in the article.)
Still, Spence is clear that his pessimism lies in the suspicion that developed countries are not serious about their emissions reductions commitments:
Prospects for agreement in Durban: Poor.
Can Durban Seal a Comprehensive New Deal?
Even an ambitious second commitment period under Kyoto will not deliver the type of emissions reductions needed to keep the lid on climate change. Some industrialized countries have been vocal in calling for a comprehensive global agreement that includes all major emitters. Only an ambitious treaty covering all key players could possibly limit global temperature rise to 2°C or less.
The concern on the part of developing countries is that such a treaty could blur the lines between the obligations of developed and developing countries. Under Kyoto, developed countries undertook to take the lead in combating climate change. This is a condition the South wants honored, and explains why they continue to press hard for a second commitment period.
Source: IISD Policy Update, “What Can a Deal in Durban Deliver?”
Apologies for the misleading headline. The IPCC is a group of super smart scientists who research climate and write reports, rather than send shiny things into space. The IPCC is preparing to publish its 5th assessment of the state of climate change. Pieces of the report are leaking to the press, which, true-to-form, is spectacularizing findings.
The IPCC does not endorse sending mirrors into space. The technology doesn’t exist, cannot be tested, and is completely speculative. Geo-engineering is a name for various proposals to combat climate change. Mirrors in space is one such method of geo-engineering that would mess with the earth’s climate. It’s a powerful concept. A group of countries would pay for the technology to make mirrors, send them into a certain orbit, and the mirror would deflect radiation away from the earth, thereby making a cooling effect to counteract global warming. Sounds a bit crack pot.
So, why did the IPCC write about mirrors and other geo-engineering techniques? Frankly, it’s an admission that the political process has failed. The COP meetings have failed to renew Kyoto. And Kyoto itself has failed to reduce emissions. Cap and trade schemes are also sketchy, demonstrating that a quasi-free market approach won’t work either. So, the alternative is to look to ways to manipulate the earth’s climate with technology. Note that the IPCC dismisses using any such technologies, and that’s where these ‘sunsational’ headlines creep in.
The IPCC has, by the way, has published on geo-engineering in the past, including a review of mirrors… Some of my previous, rather grouchy, posts on geo-engineering are here (w/free articles), here (an advert for a geo degree), and here (pro-geoengineering arguments).
Experts suggested that the documents, leaked from inside the IPPC to The Guardian, show how the UN and other developed countries are “despairing” about reaching agreement by consensus at the global climate change talks.
But the newspaper reported that scientists admit that even if the ideas theoretically work, they could cause irreversible consequences.
Climate Change TV is a web channel devoted to following world leaders as they renegotiate the Kyoto Protocol. CCTV conducts exclusive interviews with world leaders and influential figures involved in the climate change negotiations. Click the map to watch interviews with leaders from dozens of countries.
For example, here is an interview with John Ashe, UN’s ambassador to the Kyoto Protocol negotiations team. In the interview, he basically says that his group wants all countries to lower emissions by 25%. (Quick notes: He throws around some jargon. Ignore it. All you need to know is that “AWG-KP" is the name of Ashe’s team. "AWG" stands for Ad hoc Working Group. Basically, an AWG is comprised of a committee of experts, and they’re charged with completing certain tasks. Ashe’s team, the AWG-KP, is tasked with getting all the world’s 196 countries to cut a deal on extending the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.)