Governments set world on more than 3°C warming, still playing with numbers

4th September 2012

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Bangkok-- 4 September 2012—Governments are still set to send global temperatures above 3°C by 2100, even though their agreed warming limit of 2°C is still technically possible, scientists said today.

In releasing their latest update at the Bangkok UN climate talks, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a joint project of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Pik Potsdam Institute, said that it is still technically possible to meet the limit of a 2°C warming above pre-industrial levels - or lower. 

“If Governments take no further action beyond current pledges within the context of the UN climate process, the global mean temperature will increase by as much as 2.6 - 4.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100,” said Bill Hare, Director of Climate Analytics.

“Evidence clearly shows that it is a question of political will - not technological feasibility – as to whether 2°C is ‘out the window’ as some commentators are saying,” he said.

The Climate Action Tracker has analysed the effect of actions to curb the low hanging fruit of “non-C02” gases such as black carbon and HFC’s.  While it’s important to take action on these gases, they are “totally insufficient” on their own to limit warming.  

There is also pressure to get all countries to pledge to cut emissions, but the scientists have found this wouldn’t make enough of a difference in terms of curbing warming.

“Our analysis shows that it’s not the number of governments making pledges that will make the difference here, it’s the size of the pledges already on the table. We’re not facing a ‘participation gap’ here – it’s an ambition gap,” said Niklas Höhne, Director of Energy and Climate Policy at Ecofys.

Meanwhile, it seems that a number of countries have been playing with numbers – in particular Canada (page 10 of briefing).

The CAT analysis of Canada’s latest “Emissions Trends Report” has found that, in a number of different ways, the statistics presented by the Canadian Government don’t add up to the claims it has made and that a number of open questions remain unanswered.