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2010.10.06 – Original Source: Business Green

WWF paper warns world is on track to break its carbon budget

Global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 could exceed the limit recommended by climate scientists by almost a third.

That is the stark conclusion of a new paper from WWF that will be distributed today to delegates at the crucial climate talks in Tianjin, China, where negotiators are attempting to identify areas of agreement ahead of November’s main UN climate summit in Cancun.

The study, Plugging the Gap, details how the latest climate science dictates a global carbon budget of 40 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020 if the world is to have a reasonable chance of avoiding “dangerous” climate change of over two degrees Centigrade.

However, it shows that based on current policy prescriptions and the reductions promised by major economies at last year’s Copenhagen Summit, the world is on track to reach emissions levels of 47.9 to 53.6 gigatonnes in 2020, almost a third higher than the recommended limit.

“While it is clear that some countries are waking up to the transformations they will need to make to create a low-carbon economy, other countries have failed to grasp the need for deep carbon reductions now, and are risking the safety and prosperity of all as a result,” said Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF UK. “The climate talks in Tianjin need to see at least some indications that this trend is changing.”

The paper concludes that it is still possible to stay within the 2020 carbon budget, but only if industrialised nations move swiftly to deliver more ambitious emissions reductions policies and step up efforts to help developing countries curb their emissions growth.

It also warns that without urgent action the world will find it increasingly difficult to avoid temperature increases that scientists fear could trigger runaway warming.

“It’s a simple case of the sums not adding up. If we let emissions grow to 50 gigatonnes per year, we will have massively overspent our fixed carbon budget,” said Allott. “We need to decrease annual emissions year on year and share the remaining budget in a way that is considered fair not only to the industrialised countries that already used much of the world’s carbon budget, but also to the developing countries that had no such opportunity.”

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