Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sidelining science is undermining emission cuts

Jan Piotrowski in SciDev.net: Mitigation targets used to be dictated by science. Research would define the limits of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations beyond which it was not safe to stray, and countries would then peg their commitments to this evidence.

But agreements coming from the COP15 (Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 effectively removed science as the guide of national emissions goals, and with it any hope of an effective global climate agreement.

This is according to Soumya Dutta, a convenor for the Beyond Copenhagen Collective, an umbrella organisation for civil society groups. The problem, he said, is that discussions in Denmark ushered in a ‘pledge-and-review’ system in which countries suggest their own subjective, and often politically motivated, mitigation targets — a model now being used in the COP19 negotiations in Warsaw, Poland.

Scientific evidence is decoupled from the political process, which opens the floodgates to countries adapting their pledges to convenient and wholly insufficient figures, he told SciDev.Net after speaking at a side event in Warsaw last week.

“The pledge-and-review system is completely inadequate as you are not really looking at what is needed but what you are willing to do,” he said. “If we stick to this system, there is no hope of reaching a meaningful climate agreement in 2015.”...

Smokestacks in Brooklyn, 1973. EPA photo

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