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Web Date: December 14, 2009

U.S. Rejects Tougher Goal

Climate Change: Proposal to hold warming at 1.5 °C called unrealistic
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Climate Change
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: Climate Change
Stern says setting the limit for human-induced warming to a global average of 1.5 °C is not something that will be set at the Copenhagen meeting.
Credit: Cheryl Hogue/C&EN
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Stern says setting the limit for human-induced warming to a global average of 1.5 °C is not something that will be set at the Copenhagen meeting.
Credit: Cheryl Hogue/C&EN

At the global climate conference in Copenhagen, the U.S. rejected a plan put forward on Dec. 11, to hold human-induced warming to a global average of 1.5 °C.

Small island nations, which are at risk of inundation due to sea-level rise from global warming, are pushing this proposal. They want the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions so the planet does not warm more than 1.5 °C.

But brokering an international deal to meet this goal is not possible by the time the Copenhagen meeting ends on Dec. 18, said U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern.

"1.5 °C is not in the realm of what we can do right now," Stern told reporters. The U.S., like most other industrialized nations, expects the Copenhagen meeting to endorse a goal of limiting global average warming to 2 °C.

The 2 °C goal should be seen as "an initial step" for the international community, Stern said, suggesting future agreements could ratchet down this goal.

In other climate-related action, the European Union said it will provide $3.5 billion a year from 2010 to 2012 to help developing countries adapt to climate change, curb deforestation, and switch to cleaner energy. This EU's move puts pressure on the U.S. to pledge approximately the same amount for the three-year period.

Financing is a sticking point in the Copenhagen talks. Many developing countries are holding back on completing a new climate agreement until industrialized nations pony up money to help them address global warming.

The negotiations have focused on the sum of $30 billion a year in financing for three years--essentially a third each from the EU, U.S., and collectively from the rest of the industrialized world, including Japan and Canada.

 
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