Where Are We After Durban? Climate Tracker

From where I sit, Climate Action Tracker, a project of several organizations including Ecofys, PIK and Climate Analytics,  is a “must see” site for climate change instructors, providing a regular updated snapshot of the climatic implications of commitments made by the parties to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and potential successor instruments. The Tracker’s latest report assesses the implications of State GHG reduction pledge after the Durban (17th COP). Among the conclusions of the report:

  1. While the agreements reached at Durban include a work plan to enhance mitigation ambitions to close the “ambition gap” between current pledges by the Parties and what’s necessary to avoid passing the 2C threshold, there’s no assurances these ambitions will be raised; indeed, developed countries have not increased the ambition of their pledges despite such a call in the Cancun Agreement of 16COP;
  2. Current international reduction targets and national pledges put global emissions on track for a total of 66 GtCO2e/yr. in 2020, assuming confirmed unconditional pledges and lenient accounting rules. There is a substantial gap from the 44GtGtCO2e/yr. that would put us on track to keep temperature increases to below 2C vis-a-vis pre-industrial levels;
    • Should governments implement the most stringent reductions proposed to date, coupled with the most stringent accounting measures for developed States, the gap would drop, but only to 9 GtCO2e/yr.
  3. If we are to achieve emissions at a level consistent with the below 2C pathway, assuming we can achieve an emissions rate of  44GtGtCO2e/yr.  by 2020, emissions will have to decline by 2% annually to 2050. However, if 2020 emissions are in line with current pledges, then the reduction rate will have to be 3.8% per year, with huge implications in terms of societal costs and technological feasibility;
  4. Current pledges put us on track for warming of 3.5C, with a range of 2.9-4.4C, and an atmospheric concentration of 690 ppmv.

The report also provides a good analysis of the implications of temperature increases of 2C, 3C and 4C. Moreover, it outlines several options to close the “ambition gap,” including improved accounting procedures, moving to the top of their conditional pledges and reducing fossil fuel subsidies. This section could provide a good jumping off point to discuss  issues e.g. the political viability of such proposals and the assumptions that underlie them.

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