We’ve written earlier about Climate Interactive’s participation in a series of workshops convened by UNEP and the European Climate Foundation, focused on a scientific assessment of the greenhouse gas emission pledges associated with the Copenhagen Accord relative to climate goals. In the months since the last workshop, participants, including CI’s Beth Sawin, have been drafting the chapters of a report on the topic, which will be released in advance of the upcoming climate talks in Cancun at the end of November.
From October 30 to 31, the author teams will meet in Geneva to finalize the text of the report. From the initial meeting to determine if such an assessment would be possible and useful, through the several workshops and the very intensive writing process, engaging with this topic and with our colleagues in the ‘adding up’ field from around the world has brought many lessons to us at CI. A few come to mind quickly, and there will certainly be more from Geneva.
1. It is not a simple matter to add up pledges. Countries report their pledges in different forms, with questions about “business as usual” scenarios, land use emissions accounting, and many others making it challenging for analysts to quantify the implications of some pledges on 2020 emissions.
2. Knowing what ‘safe’ emissions are in 2020 is no simple matter either. How fast can emissions fall thereafter? How much carbon might be sequestered in the future either through changed land use patterns or new technologies? And what long-term temperature target are you aiming for, in what year, and with what probability do you want to achieve that target? All of these questions must be answered before the ‘target’ 2020 emissions can be identified.
I’ve gained a lot of appreciation for the knowledge, care and dedication of the co-authors of this report as they grapple with these and many other challenges. I think we’ve come up with good solutions for most of them, and feel optimistic that the final pieces will fall into place this weekend.
As for the final results – there will be only a few more weeks to wait. We’ll share the report here as soon as it is released.