Long term goal vital for Paris climate pact – Tubiana

Pathways to ensure world avoids 2C of warming should be outlined as part of a 2015 UN deal, says top French diplomat

(UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

(UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

By Ed King in Paris

Governments are being asked to commit to carbon cutting plans for 2050 consistent with avoiding dangerous levels of global warming, France’s top climate diplomat told reporters on Monday.

The voluntary and non-binding proposals would detail how individual countries could slash their greenhouse gas emissions in line with a trajectory ensuring the planet does not heat above the 2C danger zone.

Laurence Tubiana said there was growing support among countries to ensure that a proposed UN climate deal to be signed off this December in the French capital offers an “an aspirational target at national level which was consistent with the philosophy of the negotiations”.

“We will try to anchor countries before Paris to declare that they will commit on a voluntary basis to use this scenario consistent with 2C,” she said at an event in the French capital.

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Nearly 200 countries are wrangling over the deal, which is likely to include a long term target to limit emissions at some point towards the end of the century.

Still, given weak carbon cuts in plans submitted to the UN this year are likely to blow the 2C barrier, beyond which scientists predict stronger droughts, floods and rising sea levels, she said many countries now accepted the need to elaborate their long term plans.

“This is a way to express the long term (emissions) goal – we are trying to find a formula… this is a way to translate what it takes to national discussions.”

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So far, 16 countries covering nearly 70% of global emissions have contributed to a two-year-old project aimed at working out how they could make deeper long term carbon cuts by mid century.

The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP) – coordinated by French think tank IDDRI – has seen national teams of experts assessing the emission strategies of some of the world’s top emitters, including the US, China and India.

High levels of clean energy and efficiency investments could see US emissions fall to 10% of 2005 levels by 2050, costing 1% of GDP, last year’s study found.

China’s emissions could be cut 34% on 2010 levels by mid century, requiring a sevenfold increase in renewables and coal use slashed by a third.

Meanwhile the study’s chapter on India revealed it would have to meet a projected 267% boost in energy demand through nuclear, renewables and natural gas.

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Former Spanish environment minister and head of IDDRI Teresa Ribera told RTCC interest in the project was indicative of a shift in thinking at UN climate talks.

“It is not any more a question of how much do you intend to do, but how you intend to get there. We need to decarbonise and the big challenge is to identify what are the most intelligent ways to do it,” she said.

“That brings into consideration to what extent demography, socio-economic priorities and national political debates and technology match with the condition of meeting a low carbon future.”

Fei Teng, associate professor at Tsinghua University and lead author of the China study, said his team had demonstrated the country could radically cut pollution levels.

“What we have done is show it is technically feasible – but it does’t mean it’s easy to achieve,” he said.

“We didn’t link to an economic model so we can’t say what it’s linked to GDP or employment, but technically we believe this is something that can be achieved in China.”

Ed King’s travel to Paris was paid for by IDDRI

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