Plenty of wriggle room in next round of climate negotiations

Most of the world’s big economies did sign up to the emissions targets under the loose Copenhagen accord by yesterday’s deadline – but the mood surrounding this progress is fairly subdued.

The news that most of the world’s big emitters did meet the soft deadline set by the IPCC is hardly enough to detract from the poor publicity surrounding the organisation since the Himalayan glaciers error was revealed. For one thing, the biggest emerging economies had already indicated they would commit to the accord they essentially brokered.

Meanwhile the January 31 emissions target submissions, despite getting commitments from most of the world’s biggest emitters, have also served to remind of the weaknesses of the accord reached in Copenhagen last December.

One consultancy that crunches the numbers told Reuters the commitments thus far were inadequate:

“Most of the industrialized countries’ (promises) are in the ‘inadequate’ category,” said Niklas Hoehne, director of energy and climate policy at climate consultancy Ecofys, which assesses how far national commitments will help limit climate change.

“The U.S. is not enough, the European Union is not enough. For the major developed countries it’s still far behind what is expected, except for Japan and Norway,” he said.

Some developing nations, such as Brazil or Mexico, were making relatively greater efforts, he said.

Part of this, the FT points out, is because many nations, in keeping with the goals they have previously stated publicly, have submitted ranges rather than firm targets. The upper end of targets would take the world within ‘striking distance’ of the 2 degree warming safety limit recommended by scientists – ensuring that the next 10 months for climate change negotiators will be aimed at getting everyone to jump up those higher targets.

Related links:

Key points from the BASIC climate accord (FT Energy Source)
Himalayan glaciers: Not quite another climategate (FT Energy Source)
Top 10 energy questions for 2010: Clean tech and climate change edition
(FT Energy Source)

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