Bucking the Trend, Stern & Pachauri Maintain a Global Climate Deal Still Possible in Copenhagen

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photo: Christa Uymatiao via flickr.

With the needle of expectation tilting towards no full climate deal being reached in Copenhagen, two of the most prominent voices in the climate change policy world -- Lord Nicholas Stern and Dr Rajendra Pachauri -- maintain that a global agreement is still possible in six weeks:US Congress Sloth Retards Progress
Reuters quotes Stern as saying there is still a "very good chance" that a global deal will be signed in Copenhagen, though it would not be a formal treaty -- due at least in part because of the lack of progress on getting a US climate bill through Congress.

Stern added,

We can and should put together a strong and clear political deal. I think that a complete failure in Copenhagen would be very damaging. But I don't think that will happen. I think so many people want it to succeed that we've got a very good chance.

Pachauri 'Cautiously Optimistic' - Expected More From US by Now
Meanwhile, in an interview with Yale Environment 360, IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the outcome of the COP15 talks.

Pachauri said the good news is that world leaders realize that the problem of climate change can no longer be ignored, but that the negotiation progress as been very slow and that "one expected a lot more to have happened in the US by now."

Deal Possible Without Initial Full Participation of US
That said, Pachauri indicated it may be possible to craft a global deal that allows for full commitment from the US, including a strong 2020 emission reduction target, at a later date -- indeed Pachauri speculates that US business interests, no wanting to be left behind as the rest of the world moves forward with low-carbon technologies, may push for inclusion in a global agreement.

Numbers & Strong Short-Term Commitments Crucial
As for what the minimum qualifications for a good agreement in Copenhagen, Lord Stern and Dr Pachauri echoed one another: focusing on the numbers and legally binding commitments, with penalties if these aren't met.

Stern told Reuters that the "numbers are crucial" -- reducing emissions from about 50 gigatons now to 35 by 2030 and 20 by 2050, corresponding to a per capita 80% reduction by mid-century -- adding, "This is first generation that through its negligence could destroy the relationship between humans and the planet."

Pachauri focussed on short-term emissions reductions, saying that if you want to keep global temperature rise to 2°C, then emissions have to peak by 2015 and decline thereafter. Therefore, strong and clear targets for 2020 are an absolute necessity.

Though not mentioned in the interview, strong targets for 2020 are in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels -- something which only a couple developed nations have committed to.

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