Climate experts put poor in sights

Climate chaos0
Matthew Warren, The Australian

DEVELOPING countries need to be set “demanding and binding” emissions targets as part of an aggressive upgrade to global action on climate change signalled by Australia’s and Britain’s lead greenhouse policy advisers.

In two new separate papers, Ross Garnaut and Nicholas Stern have called for deep cuts in developed country emissions by 2020 and substantial reductions by developing countries to stabilise greenhouse gases at manageable levels.

Launching his latest climate report in London on Wednesday, Sir Nicholas, former chief economist for the World Bank, said developed countries must cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

In February, Professor Garnaut suggested cuts as deep as 90per cent may be needed to avoid the risk of dangerous climate change, flagging that these should be allocated on a per capita basis.

Their tag-team reports directly contradict the communique from the Bali negotiations last December, which bowed to pressure from developing countries that insisted they make only voluntary cuts in any post-2013 global emissions deal.

Global talks leading up to a crucial UN meeting in Copenhagen next year are expected to negotiate targets as part of a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012.

On Monday, Russian climate negotiators said they had no intention of accepting a binding cap on greenhouse emissions. Russia’s ratification of Kyoto was pivotal to the deal coming into force in 2003.

The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China, is reluctant to accept binding targets while fast-growing India is steadfast in its opposition, claiming any constraint on emissions would hinder economic growth.

In a new academic paper released this week, Professor Garnaut says global emissions are growing 14 per cent faster than the highest projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As a result, developed countries will need to cut emissions by 26 per cent by 2020 to reach the highest level of greenhouse gases stabilisation, and up to 40 per cent to be sure of avoiding increases of more than 2C.

“Cuts of such dimensions will not be made in a framework of voluntary action,” the paper concludes. “They will only be made if major developing countries also become subject to demanding and binding targets.”

The Garnaut paper argues that developing countries will need to “bring down emissions very substantially below business as usual” by 2020.

“Without all major emitters binding themselves to economy-wide targets or policies, given rapid emissions growth, the prospects for the global climate change mitigation are bleak,” the report says.

Sir Nicholas’s new report, Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change, says developing countries will need to set their own targets by 2020.

He argues the solution requires the rapid expansion of global carbon markets and massive investment in low-emission technologies, while rich countries will need to bear the brunt of the reforms.

A spokeswoman for Climate Minister Penny Wong said the Stern report was another reminder of the scale of the challenge and the need for a global response.

Former lead Australian climate negotiator and head of ABARE, Brian Fisher, said it was “virtually impossible” to expect to negotiate targets for developing countries by 2020.

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