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Posted at 12:17 PM ET, 11/23/2010

World faces a greenhouse gas emissions gap, U.N. says

By Juliet Eilperin

The emissions reduction pledges made by countries around the world fall well short of what is needed to keep global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, according to a new United Nations report.

The findings of the U.N. Environment Programme's report, released Tuesday, show nations could deliver almost 60 percent of the carbon cuts needed over the next decade to meet the target climate negotiators embraced in Copenhagen a year ago.

Smoke billows from a chemical plant on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province. (Stringer Shanghai-Reuters)

"We need to heed and respond to these findings in Cancun," said Janet Ranganathan, vice president of science and research at the World Resources Institute, which collaborated on the report prepared by 30 international researchers. The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change begins negotiations in Cancun on Nov. 29. She said policymakers will make choices in the near future "that will have huge implications" for the future trajectory of emissions and rises in global temperatures.

Scientists estimate that to have a "likely" chance of meeting that goal, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will need to have peaked within the next decade and be around 44 gigatons, or a billion metric tons, of carbon dioxide equivalent. A single gigaton is roughly equal to the annual carbon output of either Germany or Japan.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, annual greenhouse gases will rise from 48 to 56 gigatons of CO2 equivalent between 2009 and 2020. If the pledges that nations made last year in Copenhagen Accord were fully implemented, emissions a decade from now would be around 49 gigatons. That would leave the world five gigatons short -- equal to the emissions of all the world's cars, buses and trucks in 2005 -- of curbing global temperature rise to 3.6 degrees F.

If countries follow through on their low-ambition and use lax accounting rules, the report says, emissions could be as high as 53 gigatons in 2020, which is close to the business-as-usual scenario.

"The report underlines both the feasibility of emission reductions and the importance of international cooperation to raise the current inadequate level of ambition," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement. Governments meeting in Cancun "will need to both anchor the pledges they made in Copenhagen in the UN context and to work swiftly to agree ways to reduce emissions so that the world has a chance of staying below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise."

Amy Fraenkel, who directs UNEP's Regional Office for North America, told reporters in a telephone press conference that "the good news is that gap is readily achievable" when you consider what it will take to cut global emissions by another five gigatons. But she emphasized that if worldwide greenhouse gas emissions don't peak by 2020, it will be very difficult to avert dangerous global warming.

"It's a very serious situation that we're in right now," Fraenkel said.

By Juliet Eilperin  | November 23, 2010; 12:17 PM ET
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Next: Cancun talks start with a call to the gods


Nov. Observed events -

It’s been raining in Alaska …..

Rain from Anchorage to Barrow an ‘extraordinary event’

Read more: 2010/ 11/ 22/ 1568263/ rain-from-an...

Hudson’s Bay -
Higher-than-normal temperatures have prevented ice from forming in the region, putting it three to four weeks behind schedule, according to the Canadian Ice Service, a division of Environment Canada.

Read more: canada/ story/ 2010/ 11/ 17/ hudson-b...

Record high temperatures return to Russia
The weather in Russia will remain abnormally warm for at least the next five days, said the head of the Russian Hydrometeorological Center, adding that the record temperatures have also been recorded in Siberia and a number of other Russian regions. russia/ 20101111/ 161293803.html

The temp. 2 days ago at Nuuk, Greenland -
15.8C (60.44F)

Posted by: DuttonPeabody | November 23, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Considering the Bush family and their criminal wars, is it so unreasonable with voter support gone now, to suggest that the likes of Al Gore, the criminal lab coat consultants, pandering politicians, lazy teachers, criminal PR firms and most of all, the irresponsible NEWS EDITORS, all be round up and arrested and charged with treason for leading us to a false war of climate change? They condemned billions of people to death by CO2 for 24 years and we are supposed to just let them walk away now? Twenty-five years wasted on climate control instead of population control. Email your authorities in your particular part of the world and maybe, just maybe, history will not mock us all for this modern day witch burning of climate change. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education. NOW tell us climate change wasn’t a crime!

Posted by: paulmerrifield | November 25, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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