7 October 2011

One thing that developed country delegates might want to report to their ministers back home is how they spent the full week talking about measuring, reporting, and verification. This was done instead of getting serious about their need to increase their levels of ambition. The signs of chronic lackofambitionitis are clear and have dire 4°C symptoms –  including rising sea levels, disruption of food production, forest fires, increasing droughts and much more.

 The gigatonne gap, which negotiators have left largely untouched in Bangkok, Bonn and again in Panama, is now up to the ministers to pick up. Of course, it can still be hidden under the carpet of a number of technical COP decisions on mitigation, but ECO can’t believe anyone will be thinking that this related disease has been even remotely addressed.

 The cure is simple but requires a steely resolve.  Acknowledging the magnitude of the gap and resolving to close it, is the first step that ministers can take as they fly to South Africa for the pre-COP. A second step would then be to move the mitigation ambition to the upper end of the pledges. Extensive research has shown that countries like Australia and the EU can both reduce the symptoms of the broader disease and improve their own economic health by moving to the upper end of their pledges. Of course, the cure requires other countries to do more and thoroughly review their pathetic low pledges. This is the case for Canada and the US neither of which is planning to reduce their emissions much below their 1990 levels. And this is also the case for countries as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus whose pledges would assume emissions that are much higher than all business-as-usual projections. Preventing the deadly effects of lackofambitionitis requires industrialized countries to move their emission reduction targets to the upper end of the 25-40% pledge that was agreed in Cancun. We know that the cure is within reach as countries like Denmark, Norway, Germany and others have shown the way and thus deserve to be recognized as leaders in a race to the top.

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