Environmentalists are fretting the latest draft of a potential United Nations treaty to cut global carbon dioxide emissions isn’t worded strongly enough to avoid dangerous global warming.
“Rich countries have moved the goal posts so far that a just deal in Paris is inconceivable,” Lucy Cadena, climate and energy coordinator for Friends of the Earth, says in a statement on the draft treaty. “If this text indicates what will be agreed here, we will be left with a deal that fails humanity.”
The core objection to the draft treaty is that countries aren’t committing to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial times. Cadena says “the new text contains no obligation to stay under this threshold.”
Activists are pushing hard for U.N. delegates to commit to keeping projected global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius — a commitment that means abandoning fossil fuels much faster than is feasible or technically possible. Previously, the U.N. said it aims to keep warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. That goal has largely been abandoned in the talks currently happening in Paris.
But a U.N. warming target is likely to be meaningless no matter what it is. The U.N. itself predicts current pledges to cut emissions still put the world on the path to 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 — based onclimate models that likely run too hot anyways.
Likewise, other studies find massive cuts to global CO2 emissions will do little to actually avert any meaningful amounts of warming.
Danish professor Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center examined countries’ emissions pledges submitted to the U.N. and found “the total effect is very small: less than 0.05°C difference by the end of the century.”
New York Times reporter Coral Davenport is more upbeat on the draft treaty, saying it “skates on the edge of historical significance” because it includes key provisions for international wealth transfers, emissions auditing and a more frequent meeting schedule than poor countries initially wanted.
“Thursday night’s draft goes a long way toward sending that market signal, but doesn’t get all the way there,” Davenport writes. “The arguments over the final provisions that will determine whether the deal has teeth will unfold over the next 48 to 72 hours.”
“The new draft also requires fairly robust actions on climate change finance,” Davenport reports. “It would legally require developed countries to shell out money to help poor countries adapt to the ‘loss and damage’ sustained by climate change, and help them transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.”
“One option in the draft text would set $100 billion annually as a floor to be given from rich countries to poor countries to deal with climate change,” she writes.
The U.N. is expected to release its finalized treaty Saturday, and its expected delegates will sign on to it.
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