The Summit in Doha: Four Reasons for Hope on Climate Change

Can the world's climate still be saved? Many have already given up hope due to steadily climbing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But the battle has not yet been lost -- and there are reasons for optimism. A guest commentary by the British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey

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As things stand, the world is plainly not on track to keep the global temperature increase from climate change below two degrees centigrade, which is generally regarded as global warming's danger threshold.

The UN Environment Program (UNEP) said last week that at best, current commitments would take us somewhat short of half way towards a climate safe trajectory; and a World Bank report published the same week showed some of the dangers of a world warmed by 4°C. Anyone who engages seriously with the science is right to be concerned.

But I would identify four reasons to be hopeful. First, if we act we can still avert climate change's worst impacts. Both the UNEP report and an International Energy Agency report published the week before said that time was running out, but that 2 degrees is still within reach if we can muster the political will.

Second, the international process may be slow, but it is delivering. Since the Copenhagen summit in 2009, countries representing 80 per cent of global emissions have made economy-wide pledges of action. We agreed at Durban last year to work to a 2015 deadline for negotiating a new legally binding global deal, and I believe that it is reasonable to aim for step-by-step progress towards that deal, beginning in Doha.

In addition to agreeing to a high-level work plan towards the 2015 global deal, I want to see some concrete actions to reduce emissions before that, adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with robust accounting and transparency arrangements for those not in Kyoto, and to give developing countries comfort on the continuing provision of finance.

Improvements From the Biggest Emitters

Third, we have seen serious action by many countries, including some of the big emitters. Globe International has reported that legislation is moving forward in all major economies. Brazil has reduced deforestation by around two thirds since a peak in 2004. Korea is spending 2 percent of its GDP on the low-carbon economy. China has embedded energy efficiency and renewables targets in its latest five-year plan and is testing carbon markets in seven of its provinces.

In the UK, our Carbon Budgets provide a clear pathway to our 2050 target of an 80 percent emissions cut. We are acting on energy efficiency and smarter infrastructure. And I have recently introduced an energy bill which will give investors and industry the attractive framework and the certainty they need to deliver the huge infrastructure investment that the UK's energy sector needs.

As a result, we are on track to meet the milestones set by the EU Renewables Directive and to deliver enough renewable generation capacity to source 30 percent of the UK's electricity from renewables by 2020.

In the EU, I will continue to argue next year that going from a 20 percent emissions cut in 2020 to 30 percent, adopting longer-term targets in 2030, and renewing focus on the benefits of the Green Economy will provide the clarity and confidence so many of our businesses are demanding of us.

A Shift in Global Investments

Fourth, this action is underpinned by important changes in the real economy. According to Bloomberg, global investment in renewables outstripped fossil fuels for the first time last year. We are seeing new renewable energy technologies break into and compete successfully in the market place. Solar PV has averaged 42 percent annual growth globally over the last decade; onshore wind has averaged 27 percent.

In some markets, some solar technologies have come down in price by as much as 75 percent in only three years and are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of Africa and South Asia. Companies such as Unilever, Vodafone, Walmart and Kingfisher are setting ambitious targets to make their supply chains more sustainable. This isn't just a marketing ploy: Rising resource scarcity and climate stress means that sustainable, resilient production makes good business sense. As we saw in Rio earlier this year, businesses are now setting the agenda for governments.

I am looking to build on the leadership of such companies with a major new program to address the drivers of deforestation. On Thursday, at an event hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales, I set out plans for working with the private sector and rainforest countries so that the timber and foodstuffs we buy do not cause deforestation. And alongside the US, Norway, Germany and Australia I committed jointly to accelerating our efforts to tackle deforestation, to have a chance of staying within 2 degrees.

The UK played a significant role in securing commitment in Durban last year to negotiate a new legally binding deal by 2015, and we are not letting up in our efforts. Tackling dangerous climate change is a complex task, but in the UK we are determined to rise to the challenge, working together with all Parties at the UN towards our shared goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees and preventing the worst effects of climate change.

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1.
thmjones 12/04/2012
[quote=sysop;115558]Can the world's climate still be saved? Many have already given up hope due to steadily climbing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But the battle has not yet been lost -- and there are reasons for optimism. And, the fifth and greatest reason of them all is that according to the Hadley Centre, the world has not shown statistically significant warming in sixteen years. All indications are that the CO2 theory was just flat wrong. Maybe, nature is more complicated. Maybe, it's time for science, not politics.
2. *
BTraven 12/05/2012
Why has he been asked to write an article when the government he belongs to allows shale fracking? That technology needs chemicals which pollute the groundwater. Such a man should not be given a platform to announce his stupid ideas.
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About Edward Davey
  • REUTERS
    Edward Davey, 47, is a member of the Liberal Democrats and has been Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change since the beginning of 2012 under Prime Minister David Cameron. gehört der Partei der Liberal Democrats an und ist seit Anfang 2012 Minister für Energie und Klimaschutz unter Premierminister David Cameron.

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