No Change in the Climate Scoreboard at the Close of the Cancun Talks

With the acceptance of the Cancun Agreements, Climate Interactive’s Climate Scoreboard remains unchanged, showing that current pledges do not go far enough to achieve climate goals. No new pledges, beyond those associated with the Copenhagen Accord, materialized in Cancun, although the important step of incorporating those pledges into the framework of a UNFCCC agreement was taken.

The Scoreboard tracks pledges in the UNFCCC process and estimates long-term impacts of current pledges. Since before the last UN climate conference in Copenhagen, the Scoreboard has been tracking pledges by countries for the reduction of their emissions and using the C-ROADS model to assess the long-term temperature implications of the pledges. Heading into the Cancun climate summit, the Climate Scoreboard reflected the Copenhagen Accord pledges, where countries set forth their emissions reductions for 2020. For emissions past 2020 we made estimates based on the statements of countries in the run-up to Copenhagen, when 2050 targets were a large part of the discourse.

The Climate Scoreboard showed that expected emissions if the Copenhagen Accord pledges were to be realized were more consistent with warming of close to 4°C rather than the 2°C goal articulated in the Accord. Without the Copenhagen pledges the world would have expected even more warming, close to 4.9°C. Copenhagen represented some progress, but left much more work to be done.

After Cancun, at least with regard to countries’ commitments to reduce emissions, the situation remains unchanged. The Cancun Agreements codify the targets of the Copenhagen Accord rather than pushing beyond them. No country made more ambitious pledges in Cancun than what had already been on the table in Copenhagen.

What are the implications for climate advocates, as we look forward to the next UNFCCC meeting in South Africa, or the one after that, two years from now in Brazil?

The accomplishments of Cancun are many, including:

  • incorporating the Copenhagen Accord target of limiting temperature increase to 2.0°C (with a review of a 1.5°C target in a few years) into a decision supported by 193 nations
  • incorporating the Copenhagen Accord pledges into a decision supported by 193 nations,
  • re-building trust in the process and institution of the UNFCCC,
  • renewing commitment to transparency within the process, and
  • making progress on the creation of a climate fund.

The Agreements also names the critical decisions that must be taken up in 2011-2012. These include, most importantly:

  • strengthening 2020 emissions pledges (closing the 5- 9 Gt CO2e gap) and
  • setting 2050 targets consistent with the goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 or 2.0°C.

Knowing that these will be the critical decisions on the table in the next two years, the work of climate advocates from business, policy-making, and civil society will be to create the conditions within key sectors and countries to enable progress on these two areas.

To help all of us working to create the conditions for unprecedented progress as the UFNCCC moves forward, Climate Interactive plans to offer a series of interactive webinars in early January. The webinars will use the C-ROADS climate model and other simulations under development at Climate Interactive to help participants understand more about where we stand under the Cancun Agreements, and where the climate science demands the world now head.  What do the pledges add up to, in terms of expected emissions and climate impacts? By various metrics of effort and responsibility how do the current pledges of countries and regions compare? Where do the biggest gaps lay? Where might key points of leverage and room for compromise might be found?

Registration for the webinars will open early in January, 2011.

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