Saturday, December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Accord Provides Hope of Avoiding 5°C to 6°C by 2100

It is hard for climate scientists to find any good news in the Copenhagen Accord that was hammered out at the climate meeting that just ended but Andrew Waston from the University of East Anglia in Britain told the French news agency AFP that “At least it may signal that there is some willingness to take action, so that we might have a hope of limiting the rise to 3.0°C to 4.0°C and avoid the really unknown territory that lies beyond.” That unknown territory seems to be where we are heading by the end of this century according to some recent scientific studies. So if the bar is set low enough maybe the meeting wasn’t a failure after all. For all the talk at the meeting about staying below a 2.0°C or 1.5°C rise in global temperature above preindustrial levels it seemed none of the big polluters really cared about those targets at all. Based on their pledges to lower emissions or lower the rate of increase in emissions, staying below 5.0°C seemed good enough although that was never uttered in public. So perhaps the only positive legacy of the Copenhagen meeting will be getting us on track to avoid 5.0°C. That’s probably about as low as the bar can be lowered.

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