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Europe, Asia call for urgent 'binding' climate deal

Humans' climate impact hard to assess
College Station, Texas (UPI) Oct 5, 2010 - The possible impact of human activity on the world's environment and climate may not be known for 40 years or more, U.S. researchers say. A Texas A and M study shows that although it is evident the world is experiencing one of the fastest warming rates since the beginning of climate record keeping, it will take a long time before a statistically significant difference can be seen between possible human impacts and those caused by natural climate variability, a university release reported Tuesday. The study analyzed 150 years of climate data to determine past trends and annual temperature fluctuations and then used the data to simulate possible temperature scenarios for the rest of this century, the release said.

The effect of humanity's carbon footprint on the environment may not be measurable for decades, if at all, the study concludes. Their study has broad implications for international policy making and protocols, including initiatives like cap-and-trade, programs that provide financial incentives to companies that pollute less than others, the study authors said. "In the end," lead author Doug Sherman at A and M's College of Geosciences said, "we found that even with an aggressive international effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, it may be decades before we can see definitive results." "There is something here for both sides of the 'war against global warming,'" Sherman said. "Do we charge ahead with international agreements and policies, or do we do nothing? Do we save money for our grandchildren's future or do we try to save the climate, not knowing if our efforts will have any effect? "Unlike a true war," he said, "we cannot anticipate victory. We have, at best, a stalemate."
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Oct 5, 2010
Two months before a key UN climate conference, European and Asian leaders pledged Tuesday to seek an urgent, legally-binding deal on global warming that would include deep cuts in emissions.

"They shared the goal of reaching urgently a fair, effective and comprehensive legally binding outcome," said a final statement approved at the 46-nation Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Brussels.

"Leaders agreed that deep cuts in global emissions are required, recognising the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below two degrees Celsius," the text said.

The pledge, however, lacks any deadline or timeline for achieving this goal.

The ASEM summit grouped the 27-nation European Union, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, New Zealand and Russia.

The ASEM statement came as delegates from more than 170 countries met in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin this week in an effort to break the stalemate ahead of the next United Nations conference.

The UN climate meeting will take place between November 29 and December 10 in Cancun, Mexico, one year after the much-criticised meeting in Copenhagen.

Major carbon emitters including the United States and China remain far apart on climate change.

Hopes are low that any binding deals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions can be reached at the talks in the Mexican resort amid lingering bitterness following Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen conference last December agreed on the goal of capping global temperature rises at 2.0 degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) and pledged 100 billion dollars a year to help poor countries cope with climate change.

But it failed to muster the requisite emissions-reduction commitments from carbon producers or specify who would provide the mitigation funds.

Major emerging nations such as China and India also have resisted legally binding requirements to cut emissions, saying rich countries are historically responsible for global warming and must take the lead.

earlier related report
China tells rich nations to improve emission targets
Tianjin, China (AFP) Oct 5, 2010 - China on Tuesday told the United States and other rich nations to "dramatically" improve their greenhouse gas emission targets, blaming the countries for gridlock at UN climate change talks.

Delegates from more than 170 countries are in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin this week in an effort to break the stalemate in long-running United Nations negotiations aimed at forging a deal on tackling global warming.

Chief Chinese negotiator Su Wei told reporters that the actions of rich nations should be in focus in Tianjin and the major UN summit on climate change in Cancun, Mexico, next month.

"Many of the developed countries, especially a handful of them, have been very laggard on climate change actions and this has led to failure of major breakthroughs or progress in the negotiations," Su said.

Europe has pledged to cut its emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by 20 percent by 2020, based on 1990 levels.

The United States has pledged a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

But Su said these targets were not good enough.

"We believe it is a positive thing that they put forward these targets, but these targets are still far away from the expectations of developing countries and from what is demanded by science," Su said. "Therefore the emissions reduction goals of developed countries should be dramatically increased."

Su said China wanted the targets to be discussed as part of the negotiations for Cancun.

Rich industrialised countries and fast-growing developing nations have long tussled over who should carry the greatest burden for reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

The issue was one of the main reasons for the failure of world leaders to forge a comprehensive and binding deal on fighting climate change in Copenhagen last year.

At Copenhagen the world leaders agreed on a goal of limiting global temperature rises to two degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

However there was no agreement on how this would be done and by when.

Environmentalists warn countries have to act far more quickly to curb greenhouse gases and stop rising temperatures that could lead to catastrophic weather such as droughts and floods.

China overtook the United States in recent years as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, as its economy has roared ahead to become the world's second biggest.

But China has refused to commit to cutting emissions outright, stating this would unfairly hurt its economic development.

The United States and other developed countries have urged China to commit to emission cut targets as part of a planned post-2012 treaty on global warming to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Although China has refused, it pledged last year to slow the growth in those emissions by reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, essentially a vow of greater energy efficiency.

Su said that China would continue to pursue its own domestic efforts to reduce greenhouse gases independently of the United States.

"Of course the United States has not taken concrete actions but the rest of us cannot use that as an excuse to say 'America is not doing anything, then we will not do anything'," he said. "We can't wait for America."

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China tells rich nations to improve emission targets
Tianjin, China (AFP) Oct 5, 2010
China on Tuesday told the United States and other rich nations to "dramatically" improve their greenhouse gas emission targets, blaming the countries for gridlock at UN climate change talks. Delegates from more than 170 countries are in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin this week in an effort to break the stalemate in long-running United Nations negotiations aimed at forging a deal on tac ... read more

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