Nairobi ECO Issue 6


Pathways Towards Climate Protection

ECO welcomes the fact Parties are finally starting to examine the implications of future emission pathways that will allow them to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention as defined in Article 2. This came up in the Ad-Hoc Working Group (AWG) workshop on Tuesday, and seems to have penetrated the discussions here in Nairobi more generally.

An examination of the limits on global emissions over the long term necessary to keep global warming to below 2oC is an essential parameter for negotiating emission reductions requirements for Annex 1 countries, as well as for understanding the scale of the efforts needed in developing countries.

It is possible to estimate the atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration levels, and from there annual emission levels, that will have a good chance of keeping global warming to less than 2oC above pre-industrial levels. Timing is also key. There are remaining uncertainties in precisely quantifying the climate sensitivity, so the best the world can do at this stage is to define a range of probabilities for meeting the long term target.  This is a very good reason to keep the system of five-year commitment periods in the future iterations of the Protocol, but that is another story.

The figure below shows one scenario for the division of the annual emissions ‘pie’ between different groups of countries within an overall cap that will put the world on a pathway towards stabilisation at a given concentration level. The stabilisation level will determine the likelihood of keeping warming to below the desired target. Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change language, a 550 ppm concentration level is ‘likely’ (65-90 per cent chance) to overshoot 2oC, and a 450 ppm concentration level has a ‘medium likelihood’ (35-65 per cent chance) to overshoot 2oC. To make it ‘likely’ to stay below the 2oC target, concentration targets then must be for 400 ppm or lower.

Meeting the ultimate objective of the climate convention – to avoid   dangerous climate change – is going to require significant action on a global basis. The politics of that will of course be complicated, but the science is certainly clear.

The world has to act even faster and take more dramatic action if it is to avoid damage associated with a 2ºC global average temperature rise. This means that for now, the   aim has to be stabilising GHGs in the atmosphere  and then seeking to bring them down as rapidly as possible if there is to be a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2ºC.

To meet these goals dramatic reductions in GHG emissions are needed, and they are needed soon. From a moral, legal and practical perspective, the initial burden of emissions reductions has to fall on industrialised countries. Domestic reductions of at least 30 per cent on 1990 levels (the ‘baseline’ year for the Kyoto Protocol) by 2020 from industrialised countries are required, with a target of at least 75 per cent reductions by mid-century.

Globally, there is a need to ensure  emissions peak as soon as possible, and no later than 2015-2020, and then reduce them by 50 per cent by mid-century. This means not only that industrialised countries must make dramatic reductions in the next decade but a fair means must be found for engaging rapidly industrialising countries in reduction efforts in the near future. 

Consequences of delay in the process of reducing emissions means the world will face a dire global emergency in the 2020s which will require rates of emission reductions in the past only associated with massive economic collapse such as the collapse of the Soviet Union. The world must not be forced to choose between economic catastrophe and climate catastrophe. The most likely outcome in that case would be both, and we have a good chance of avoiding this if we Act Now.


  Article 9 Review Offers Opportunity
This first COP/MOP meeting in Sub Saharan Africa converges the priorities of the developing and developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol, with focus on the post-2012 regime and adaptation needs.
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
Brazil took first place in yesterday’s fossil award competition for its hard line and spurious rationale in selfishly preventing the use of Article 9 to strengthen and broaden climate protection efforts in the post-2012 period. In spite of the urgency of the problem and inadequacy of existing responses, Brazil insisted on a narrow, legalistic interpretation of the Protocol text. Its effort was aimed at fragmenting discussions under the various negotiating tracks, and delaying any serious discussion of how developing countries can contribute to a comprehensive strategy using the Kyoto Protocol and Climate Convention. Without a strong negotiation process under Article 9, there is no chance of getting global emissions trends moving in a direction compatible with preventing dangerous climate change.
  Cartoon Competition: Two Entries Received
ECO is delighted to announce receipt of two entries for its Climate Change Cartoon Competition launched on November 8. The first was from Cécile Bertrand in Belgium while the second was from Lawrence Moore in the UK. ECO is pleased to publish a cartoon by Moore in this issue. Other cartoons submitted will be highlighted later. ECO strongly urges other aspiring cartoonists among COP participants and ECO readers to submit your works, so that you too can participate in the competition. As a winner, YOU will be the proud owner of a unique collection of “negotiation stuff” with which you can impress your friends and colleagues! Entries can be sent to preferably in JPEG format. Those in Nairobi with hand-drawn entries are requested to hand them to a CAN member or call 0720-899-374.
Having arrived late in Nairobi on Tuesday after a pre-COP safari, Tusker had no time to change and was taken off to Gigiri in his dusty khaki suit. His survival gear came in handy, as it was not before Friday lunch-time that Tusker finally found his way to a side event at the African something tree in ICRAF.
  NGO Party Today!
Put on your dancing shoes! The ever-popular NGO party, organised by Climate Action Network, will be held today, Saturday, November 11 from 8pm onwards. Venue for the event is the Jomo Kenyatta Conference Centre (JKCC) in Nairobi’s city centre near the Parliament. (Refer to the back of a 100 Shillings note for visual details.)