Copenhagen climate accord won't do the job, say scientists

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Copenhagen Accord is so full of holes that even if countries stick to their targets there could still be a 4.2-degree rise in temperature by 2100, says a new report.

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks off, a new report in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters describes how, due to lack of global action to date, there's little chance of keeping the global temperature increase down to two degrees, as  targeted in the Accord.

Looking at individual countries' agreed targets for emission levels, the report shows that many developed countries such as the US and the European Union have set their sights low, to say the least, aiming at reaching emission levels just a few percent lower than 1990 levels by 2020.

Only Japan and Norway are aiming for serious cuts, promising levels 25 percent and 30 to 40 percent below 1990's respectively.

The group of international researchers also found that even if nations would agree to a stonking 50 percent reduction of emission levels, there would still only be a less than 50 percent chance of keeping global warming below two degrees.

The researchers say, urgent action is necessary. "It is clear from this analysis that higher ambitions for 2020 are necessary to keep the options for two degrees C and 1.5 degrees C open without relying on potentially infeasible reduction rates after 2020," they say

"In addition, the absence of a mid-century emission goal – towards which parties as a whole can work and which serve as a yardstick of whether interim reductions by 2020 and 2030 are on the right track – is a critical deficit in the overall ambition level of the Copenhagen Accord."