5 2°C Target and Current Ambition |
51. The voluntary commitments from many nations under
the Copenhagen and Cancun processes still leave a trajectory that
would probably result in a 3-4 °C rise in the global average
temperature by 2100,
so these commitments are clearly insufficient to meet the objective
of a maximum 2 °C rise. Nevertheless, they should be welcomed
as a significant step forward and they represent voluntary agreements
from different nations, who might not have otherwise participated
52. The EU's 20% reduction target (based on 1990
levels) by 2020 is no longer either ambitious or challenging:
the effects of the recession mean that a reduction of emissions
of only six percentage points
between 2010 and 2020 on top of what has been achieved to date
will be sufficient to meet this target.
WWF-UK explained how an informal "coalition for high ambition"
had emerged at COP 17 in Durban, consisting of over 120 nations
from the least developed countries, small island states, and the
EU. It claimed that
the main threat to this "new and fragile" coalition
was the "lack of credibility in the level of climate action
in the UK and EU."
53. Prof. Jouni Paavola of the University of Leeds
told us that increasing the EU's ambition level to 30% made good
economic sense in the current world of high energy prices.
Sir David King added that the context of individual EU member
states reliance on imported oil and gas was a major factor in
both emissions performance and their current financial difficulties,
but that this point did not seem to be appreciated by policy makers:
"the Italian economy is in deficit by 38
billion per annum at the moment, roughly. Of that, since they
were not in deficit, since they were in balance in the year 2000,
the increased cost of imported oil to Italy is 34 billion.
Most of the current deficit in Italy is due to the cost of imported
oil at US$100+ [per barrel].".
influence over, and potential leadership of, future international
negotiations would be greatly increased if its own economy was
decarbonised more rapidly. It should therefore set a target of
a 30% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020. This would be a win in
the long term economic and environmental interests of the UK and
the EU. We recommend that the Government argues strongly for this
at the European level.
55. The IPCC is to assess whether the scientific
evidence points to a 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C rise in
global average temperatures. The 2 °C target is ultimately
a political agreement, and even this will be difficult enough
to implement though important in setting a framework and providing
something to aim for, and to set emissions reductions pledges
against. A 1.5 °C target, which some observers already consider
to be unachievable, is unlikely to provide any more leverage at
negotiations. However, it needs to be acknowledged that for some
countries, such as low lying states, 2 °C may well be "the
end of the world" and as such it is politically impossible
for them to subscribe to a 2 °C target.
It is important to note that the 2 °C target itself represents
a judgement about the balance of threat and probability. It does
not, according to scientific evidence, guarantee that dangerous
and irreversible climate change will be avoided. At the same time
exceeding the 2 °C level will not inevitably cause dangerous
and irreversible climate change.
56. WWF-UK argued that global emissions must have
an early peak (by 2015) and decline steeply thereafter to keep
the temperature rises to the agreed level and avoid the need for
"extremely steep emission reduction rates and aggressive
mitigation measures afterwards".
DECC believes that "it is not possible to make definitive
statements on compatibility of emission reduction commitments
and eventual global warming".
They agreed, however, that the current pledges were "not
consistent" with an emissions trajectory that will keep warming
57. In fact, there is no precisely defined time by
which global emissions have to have peaked in order to keep temperatures
to the agreed level, they just have to peak as early as possible.
Prof. Jacobs summarised it as: "Earlier is better, but later
is better than much later".
The longer it is until emissions peak, however, the faster they
will have to reduce after that peak, and the more difficult and
costly it will be to make that reduction.
64 Sir David King, International climate change negotiations:
key lessons and next steps, Chapter 3, p 14 Back
Q 89 Back
European Commission, Analysis of options beyond 20% GHG emission
reductions: Member state results, February 2012, p 5 Back
Q 6 Back
Ev 74 Back
Ev 75 Back
Q 132 Back
Q 92 Back
Q 142 Back
Q 132 [Dr. Robert Falkner] Back
Ev 77 Back
Ev 60 Back
Ev 61 Back
Q 137 Back
Q 135 Back