There are just 100 critical days until the start of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Leading thinkers are outlining the importance of the talks but with atmospheric carbon dioxide currently at 387 ppm, we’ve yet to hear of any proposals from any developed country leader for anything like what these scientists say we need.
There are just 100 days until the start of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. The UN’s top climate scientist, the Nobel laureate, Rajendra Pachauri, said in November 2007, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”
In this recent candid interview, President Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren, explains why he agrees these negotiations are so crucial:
“What the science is telling us is that if we want a good chance of avoiding the worst possible outcomes from climate change, we need the global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants to level off by about 2020 and be declining sharply after that.
And if that is going to happen, and if you allow for the inevitability that the developing countries are not going to be able to level off and start to decline as quickly as the industrialized countries, you really need the industrialized countries to peak and begin to decline no later than about 2015. That would allow the possibility that the developing countries, as a group, could peak as late as 2025 before they have to start to decline.
And if that is so — and I believe that’s what the science is telling us — then we really have to have in place across the industrialized world the agreements and the measures that are going to enable us to peak no later than 2015 and start to decline. We need those things in place no later than about 2012. And if you want those things to be in place no later than 2012, we really should get it done in Copenhagen. That’s the schedule.”
The world’s leading climate scientist, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor James Hansen, has argued for sometime – as he did here last week – that, “science has revealed in the last few years that the safe level of carbon dioxide in the long run is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm).” Hansen and other’s call for a global target to get emissions to 350ppm – supported by the huge global campaign 350.org – were given a boost last week when Pachauri gave his personal his support to this target.
Set against these urgent calls, and with atmospheric carbon dioxide currently at 387 ppm, we’ve yet to hear of any proposals from any developed country leader for anything like what these scientists say we need. These 100 days will be critical.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.