Climate change: It’s even worse than we thought

On Monday November 26th the international climate talks open in Doha,  an article published in the New Scientist this week carried the startling headline, Climate Change: It’s even worse than we thought. Climate change is happening faster and quicker than expected. Artic sea ice was not expected to melt to the end of the century but current trends indicate it could happen a lot quicker than that, the loss of sea ice means sea level rises. Weather events are more unpredicatable than imagined, with superstorm Sandy topping the bill after a year of heatwaves, droughts, floods and blizzards. The world is heading for an average 3-5 deg C temperature rise this century barring urgent action.

A faster response to climate change is necessary and possible,Doha must make sure the response is accelerated.” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres

A World Bank report released earlier this week outlined what a 4 degree world will look like, the inundation of coastal cities, risks for food production, increased malnutrition, heatwaves, water scarcity and the loss of biodiversity.

You would hope that all of that would make a deal in Doha all the more possible. Yet as the world begins to gather for the 18th conference of the parties a far reaching, legally binding commitment to safeguard our planets future remains elusive as ever.

“An agreement to make an agreement”

For the last few years the climate talks have famously ended in disappointment and betrayal for those who want to see action on climate change. Kyoto offically comes to an end in 2012 and as of yet there is no new legally binding international framework. Last year at the Durban climate talks an agreement was made to make an agreement in 2015. An outcome that was lambasted by groups across the globe for its lack of ambition. The Climate Institute predicts three possible outcomes in Doha: collapse of negotiations, further delay to decisions or a focus streamlined track of negotiations. For the climate talks to work the Doha summit needs to result in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, where environmental integrity is safeguarded.

Around 30 European nations and Australia have signalled they are ready to take on new commitments following Kyoto but major emitters such as Canada, Japan, Russia and the United States are refusing to particpate, arguing the agreement will have no environmental impact until it imposes similar targets on large developing nations, including China, Brazil, South Africa and India. Known as the ‘BASIC’ bloc those 4 countries argue that before they agree to emission cuts, rich nations must produce more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a great deal at stake this week in Doha, not least the future of earth and humanity as we know it. As the climate talks unfold, we at CAT  will be following them closely, and the groups and NGO’s on the outside campaigning for climate justice, watch this space.