Photo via Inhabitat
And we're off. While US congressmen are battling over the Democrats' climate bill stateside, the United Nations took the first step in creating an international accord by drafting a brand new climate treaty. The targets for greenhouse gas reduction are shaping up to be encouragingly strong--not just for rich nations, but for developing ones like China as well. Here's a sneak peek at what the next global climate treaty might look like.The UN has begun the momentous task of paving the road to Copenhagen, where international climate talks will hopefully yield a new global treaty more effective than Kyoto.
After all, the US opted out of signing the Kyoto Treaty (repeatedly) on the grounds that it set no targets for developing nations like China and India, which now account for a sizable share of the world's carbon emissions. But the UN took that under consideration in drafting the new treaty--targets for "developing economies" are now included. Some highlights:
Tough New Climate Targets
-"Nearly eliminating" the greenhouse gas emissions of rich countries like the US, Japan, and many European nations by mid-century.
-Curbing emissions of developing economies like China and India would have to reduce their emissions by 25% by around the same time.
Note that it's the first time any such emissions target has ever been advanced for developing nations. Another fascinating proposal of the treaty is that countries share clean energy technology to achieve faster results--a measure that's sure to bother competition-oriented capitalists here in the US.
Other Climate Goals
Some other, more abstract ideas are proposed as well, designed to take a new tack on curbing emissions on a global scale. According to Bloomberg:
One would stabilize emissions at a level to ensure the average temperature doesn’t rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Another aims at keeping the increase below 1.5 degrees. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degrees since the mid-1800s. Five possible time- frames are listed for when total global emissions should peak.
One last element of the draft worth noting is the potential scheme for a sort of "Carbon Weigh In":
Another plan would reduce global average annual greenhouse- gas emissions to about 2 metric tons per person. That compares with 19.78 tons for the average U.S. citizen, 7.99 tons for a typical European and 4.58 tons per Chinese in 2006, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy.
So there's a lot on the table, as you can see--a lot to work with. But with time ticking down to the potentially world-changing talks in Copenhagen at the end of the year, there's no time to be wasted.