Weak Doha climate deal leaves world on pathway to 3°C by 2040

By Ed King

Scientists warn that the Doha round of the UN climate talks has left the world a step closer to catastrophic climate change.

The latest Climate Action Tracker report, published hours after negotiations concluded, reveals that the world is currently on path for warming of 3°C by 2040.

Predicted consequences include sea level rises, the melting of the Greenland Ice sheet and Arctic Permafrost, together with a 20-30% increase in extreme precipitation.

“We have heard much from the mighty in Doha, whether it be the USA or China, but what is striking is the aridity and emptiness of the words and deeds when it comes to real action and real commitment to hold warming below 2°C,” said Bill Hare from Climate Analytics.

“The science tells us that we run the risk now of turning our coral reefs and many rainforests into a ‘colossal wreck, boundless and bare’, with aridity, heat and drought turning many regions from green to brown.”

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Despite an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol, no new emission cuts were agreed in the Qatari capital, while little progress was made on guaranteeing the flow of climate finance over the next two years.

Only Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Belarus and Ukraine set new targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE suggested they would publish emission limits, but did not say when or how ambitious these will be.

Ahead of the summit the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned the world faces an ‘emissions gap’ between pledges and what is required, which could be virtually impossible to bridge by 2020.

While the texts agreed in Doha note the scientific imperative of holding the increase in global temperature ‘below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre industrial levels’, they do not specify how this could be achieved, bar a global deal on the climate in 2015.

UK climate and energy Secretary of State Ed Davey admitted that decisions in Doha would not see emissions drop, saying “we need to have action now”.

Nauru foreign minister Kieren Keke used stronger language, labelling results from Doha “deeply deficient in mitigation ambition”.

UN climate talks Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said: “The door to stay below 2°C remains barely open. The science shows it, the data proves it”.

And in a statement released today UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who will convene a world leaders climate summit in 2014, said society must join forces in order to address this issue.

“The Secretary-General believes that far more needs to be done and he calls on governments, along with businesses, civil society and citizens, to accelerate action on the ground so that the global temperature rise can be limited to 2°C.”

Video: UNFCCC Chief Christiana Figueres gives her closing remarks at the COP18 conference in Doha

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