Limping to Paris
The Developed World Is Unprepared for Climate Summit

As national commitments continue to trickle in ahead of this December’s climate summit in France, we’re starting to get an idea of the starting positions delegates will be working off of. The developed world—those nations primarily responsible for the current amount of carbon emissions and therefore the group expected to take the lead in mitigation and adaptation techniques—seems to be on a path to committing to reducing emissions 30 percent by 2030, from 2010 levels. As Reuters reports, that won’t be nearly enough to satisfy climate scientists:

A Reuters review of national pledges shows that a core group of developed nations intends to cut emissions to the equivalent of 9.0 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 from 12.2 billion in 2010. […]

“The overall ambition of the developed countries is still not sufficient,” said Niklas Hoehne, founding partner of the New Climate Institute that tracks pledges, referring to a U.N. goal of limiting rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Last year the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said rich nations that were members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1990 should halve emissions by 2030 from 2010 to limit warming.

The gap between a 30 percent cut in emissions and a 50 percent one is enormous, and it’s sure to be seized upon by the developing world as a sign that the West isn’t ready to commit to solving the problem. There’s already a wide gap between the developed and developing worlds’ positions on climate change: the former got us into this mess, while the latter looks to exacerbate the problem further in future decades as it industrializes. You can be sure the third world will harp on that discrepancy between the developed nations’ targets and what the IPCC recommended in the Paris negotiations.

Officials close to the summit have spent the summer backpedaling in a desperate attempt to deflate expectations. Talks in the run-up to the conference have failed to pare down the 80+ page draft text, while the UN’s own climate chief admitted that Paris won’t put the world on the path towards avoiding 2 degrees Celsius of warming, again defying IPCC recommendations. And whatever document Paris produces, you can be sure it won’t be binding to its signatories, as at the very least Congress will refuse to ratify any such agreement. A watered-down unenforceable climate deal lies just ahead. Is this the best way to be spending precious political capital in the fight against climate change

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