As nations haggle, carbon cut targets get impossibly high
UN talks have delivered only small emissions curbs in 20 years, even as power stations, cars and factories pump out more and more heat-trapping gases.
An overriding long-term goal set by all nations two years ago to keep temperature rises to less than 2°C above levels prior to the Industrial Revolution is fast slipping away.
“The possibility of keeping warming to below 2°C has almost vanished,” Pep Canadell, head of the Global Carbon Project at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, said.
Disagreements mean the UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, that run until December 7 have scant chance of making meaningful progress. The talks are aimed at reaching a new deal to start by 2020 to slow climate change in the form of more floods, droughts, rising sea levels and severe storms like Hurricane Sandy that lashed the US Northeast last month.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, have risen 50% since 1990 and the pace of growth has picked up since 2000, Canadell said. In the past decade, emissions have grown about 3% a year despite an economic slowdown, up from 1% during the 1990s.
Based on current emissions growth and rapid industrial expansion in developing nations, emissions are expected to keep growing by about 3% a year over the next decade.
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