Peak Emissions by 2020? The UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Thinks So

UK Energy and Climate Change Director Ed Miliband

Image via: UK Independent/Getty Images

It's been speculated and even demanded that emissions have to peak by 2020 if we are going to avoid irreversible damage. Well, Ed Miliband, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, took the leap at the Major Economies Forum this week to say it can and will be done, reports the UK Independent. Here's why: Meeting in Mexico this week, developed nations from around the world sent representatives to try and hash out more specifics in the lead up to Copenhagen this December, where countries around the world hope to create the next "Kyoto." At this meeting, leaders are pushing for a strong commitment to make the 2020 peak not just "happen" (surprise! well would'ya look at that) but to actually work to make it a goal that we meet and/or beat. Peaking at 2020 is possible, Miliband says, but only with a commitment and concerted effort.

Just a few years delay in meeting that peak, means a more "changes" to have to deal with that would otherwise be unnecessary. Computer simulations by the UK Hadley Center predict that for every 10 year delay, "another half degree temperature increase becomes unavoidable." Scientists at the UK Hadley Centre also say that, "Even if emissions peak in the next ten years and then decline rapidly, temperatures are still likely to rise to around two degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century." While the models are showing that emissions from developed nations can peak in 2015, just this last year emissions from developing nations surpassed those of the developed and are continuing to rise.

How did Miliband and his team come to this 2020 peak conclusion? Currently at the Hadley Center, computer modeling trends tend to show "a two degree rise with a 2015 peak (and world carbon emissions subsequently declining at three percent a year to 2050). As part of this push to make 2020 an achievable goal, the UK is launching "Act on Copenhagen" a website (and they are passed out pamphlets at the meeting) to educate citizens to push elected officials into taking the 2020 deadline seriously.

If you think about it, meeting 2015 or even 2020 peak emissions is a tremendous feat given that it is already 2009 and we just might be able to slow the effects of climate change in just a few short years. If what the models are showing is correct, that is good news indeed. It doesn't meant that we can slack off, and in fact it still means we need to stay on our emission reduction game, but it does mean that we are finally getting a kudos or planetary pat on the back for all of the global progress we are making.:UK Independent :Act on Copenhagen
More on Peak Emissions
There's No Way to Stabilize CO2 Without Tackling Coal Emissions
China Considers Putting a Lid on CO2...Well, Sort of
Nicholas Stern Outlines Proposal for Global Deal on Climate Change
CA-BOOM: Emergency Response Needed for Emissions Explosion

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