COP16 is Ten Months Away & Expectation Management Has Already Begun

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Well the emission reduction pledges are in and things are more or less as we left them in Copenhagen some six weeks ago. We may have what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called an "essential first step" towards a greater legally-binding climate deal, and one which the Nature Conservancy's Duncan March says is a potential "real turning point," but it's a baby step and one which on its own won't actually result in holding temperature rise below 2°C.

In fact, there's already expectation management going on regarding whether there will be a global climate deal by the end of talks in Mexico on December 10th:Definitive Deal Very Difficult
The chief early naysayer (or perhaps realist...) is former UK deputy prime minister and current Council of Europe rapporteur on climate John Prescott:

I don't care if it's government ministers of NGOs, if they think you can get a legal agreement all signed up by November in Mexico, I don't believe it. (The Guardian)

In the same publication Brazil's national secretary for climate change Suzana Kahn says we'll see some success in 2010, but a definitive deal will be "very difficult."

US Needs a Strong, Binding Climate Bill for Success
A key factor in achieving a measure of success, according to Kahn--and this is frankly something which most people in the green community have been saying for, well, years--is that a legally binding emission reduction commitment has to be enacted in the United States, and one with real emission cuts.

Remember that compared to the most commonly used international baseline of cuts from 1990 levels by 2020, the US commitment as put into the Copenhagen accord (contingent upon action in Congress) is effectively less than 5% below 1990 levels--when 40% is what is needed.

And then there's the commitment of China, which will pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy, but not actual reductions. As has been the case for some time, there's a you go first, no you go first aspect resulting in a staring contest.

UN Climate Official Says Don't Rush It
UN top climate official Yvo de Boer, quoted by Reuters was more optimistic, saying, "Whether we can achieve [a legally binding deal] in Mexico or need a bit more time remains to be seen and will become clearer in the course of the year... One of the lessons from Copenhagen was don't rush it, take the time you need to get full engagement of all countries and make sure people are confident about what is being agreed."

It's a ways off until COP16 begins at the end of November and a lot can happen, but it seems equally clear that we've still got a really long way to go before the science says is required and what politics thinks is possible come into alignment.

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