Cambridge academics push for higher carbon emission targets

New report informs climate change negotiators in Bonn that pledged carbon emission targets remain well short of what is required for limiting temperature rises to less than 2ÂșC.

Online PR News – 04-August-2010 – – Timed to coincide with the opening of the latest round of UN-backed climate change negotiations in Bonn, Climate Strategies, an independent network of international climate academics hosted at the University of Cambridge, reiterated warnings today that the carbon emission reduction targets pledged by countries involved in international climate negotiations remain well short of what is required to stand a reasonable chance of meeting the stated goal of limiting temperature rises to less than 2ÂșC.

The report, entitled “Analytic support to target-based negotiations” warns that unless action is taken soon to deliver more ambitious cuts in carbon emissions, future generations will have to achieve daunting cuts in carbon emissions if there is to be any hope of stabilising temperature increases at about 2ÂșC above pre-industrial levels. It says that there is clearly a discrepancy between agreements made by world leaders for reductions in carbon emissions by 2050 needed for the world to be on a 2ÂșC path, and the comparatively weak targets pledged for 2020.

Murray Ward, who led the report, said: "Many of the existing pledges were set out before the full effects of the recession were realised," he explained. "It is critical that countries provide the best and latest data estimates for all the key variables that go into understanding exactly what level of effort is associated with their targets. This is needed to set the basis for a collective strengthening of targets based on circumstances known today, not those of early 2009 when many of the pledges emerged from capitals."

The Copenhagen Accord agreement was praised for securing a commitment from the US to cut carbon emissions by 17% on 2005 levels by 2020, as well as pledges from large emerging economies such as China and India to reduce carbon emissions relative to GDP. However, climate scientists, environmental groups and many smaller countries have consistently maintained that the carbon emission reduction targets set out for 2020 will fail to ensure that global carbon emissions peak within the next 10 years, increasing the risks of dangerous levels of climate change.

The latest report will further increase pressure for more ambitious carbon emissions targets at the UN-backed climate change negotiators gathered in Bonn this week. There, the UK and some other European nations are expected to lead calls for the EU to upgrade its carbon emission targets for 2020 from a 20% to a 30% cut against 1990 levels. However, recent news inform that the US Senate has dropped plans for a climate change bill that would have made its proposed carbon emissions target legally binding.