Global Warming Fight Advances With First Steps on Treaty

According to Bloomberg,

Diplomats from almost 190 nations endorsed a set of measures on global warming, laying the groundwork for a treaty to be adopted in 2015 that would limit pollution by all nations for the first time.

Polar Bear and Cubs in Manitoba, Canada (Bloomberg)

Polar Bear and Cubs in Manitoba, Canada (Bloomberg)

The delegates at a United Nations conference called on those who are ready to make pledges on emissions by the first quarter of 2015. They authorized work on a “loss and damage” mechanism that would help the poorest cope with the impact of climate change, took in $100 million in aid pledges to fund adaptation programs and agreed on a forest-protection deal.

The meeting sidestepped the most thorny issues in the debate, namely how to divide up responsibility for emissions cuts and how richer nations will meet their promise to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 in aid for climate projects. Those concerns may stymie work toward a broader accord in two years.

“There are some very difficult political issues that will need to be addressed over the next two years if we are going to have a successful outcome,” said Alden Meyer, an observer of the talks for two decades at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said at the meeting yesterday in Warsaw, Poland. “We’re just at the beginning of a long and potentially difficult journey.”

This year’s meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was never designed to produce a breakthrough. Instead, it was meant to work out the technical groundwork necessary for the 2015 deal, which will be negotiated in Paris after an interim meeting in Lima, Peru.

Pollution Level

Record carbon emissions have lifted the Earth’s temperature about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, and the planet is on a path to exceed the UN-endorsed maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100. As a result, sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifying and glaciers and sea ice are melting. Scientists predict more freak weather, droughts and stronger storms.

Humans have already emitted more than half the greenhouse gases compatible with a 2-degree increase, UN scientists said Sept. 27. The implication of that is many fossil-fuel reserves need to remain unburned if the temperature goal is to be met.

“The coal lobby cast a shadow over the negotiations,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program, at the World Resources Institute. “It’s increasingly clear that unabated coal use is inconsistent with the goal of staying within 2 degrees.”

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