Beginning on Monday in Bonn, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is holding a new round of negotiations. The goal is to get more clarity on an international agreement prior to the year-end talks in Copenhagen.
A couple weeks ago I posted on the document that is being discussed relating to possible changes in obligations from developed countries. The topic of this post is the document being discussed by the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action.
This document is laying the groundwork for what the long-term limits should be for greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere as well as how mitigation and adaptation should be financed and verified in various contexts.
There are several propositions in the document for long term limit goals. The options under discussion range from stabilizing GHG concentration in the atmosphere at 450 ppm all the way to 350 ppm. Each number would be a significant goal. The current concentration is around 388 ppm and scientific models suggest that the number could more than double in the absence of a significant global mitigation effort.
On the issue of mitigation the document has a wide range of time lines and emissions reduction numbers. One provision asks developed countries to decrease GHG emissions between 20-45 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and by anywhere from 75-90 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
As a point of comparison: Obama has pledged to reduce US emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020 and then hit the 80% target by 2050. The Waxman-Markey bill is even weaker, calling for an 83% reduction from 2005 levels by 2050.
Also included in the document were targets for developing countries, including a reduction from “business as usual” between 15-30% by 2020 and an eventual 20% reduction from 2000 levels by 2050. Large developing countries like China have shown signs in recent days a willingness to deviate from business as usual; but any net emissions reduction obligations will likely be a non-starter.
It will be interesting to see how the various disparities get hashed out over the next two weeks in Bonn. This is really the first time we are starting to see actual numbers in the negotiation documents. Optimism is relatively high given the change in US administrations and the opening of a China-US dialog on the subject in recent months. How delegates from various countries react to the actual numbers in Bonn could give a sense of whether this optimism is nothing more than a chimera.