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Those of us that tried to be optimistic about Copenhagen often pointed to the fact that a non-binding treaty was better than no treaty at all, and that the voluntary pledges made by nations to curb their emissions was indeed going to be have an impact. Well, the scientists are not so optimistic. A recent article by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany in the journal Nature puts it bluntly: the 'paltry' pledges by nations who signed the Copenhagen Accord will put temperatures on track to rise 3 degrees Centigrade. Woops. 3 degrees, in case you were wondering, is a lot. It's enough to pretty thoroughly transform the current climate. It will most likely lead to the following fun stuff: sea level rise, decreased crop yields, water shortages in many regions, and damage to almost all coral reefs, just to name a few.
The scientists in the paper argue that there must be a global, binding agreement if there is to be any hope of keeping temperatures from rising above 2 degrees C--the stated goal of the nations that signed the Copenhagen Accord.
Here's a synopsis of the shortcomings of the world's nations emissions reduction pledges, via the BBC:
"There's a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2C... and the emissions reductions," said Potsdam's Malte Meinshausen.Which is bad news indeed. See the full analysis of the new Nature article at the BBC.
"The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious," he told BBC News. In their Nature article, the team uses stronger language, describing the pledges as "paltry". "The prospects for limiting global warming to 2C - or even to 1.5C, as more than 100 nations demand - are in dire peril," they conclude.
Between now and 2020, global emissions are likely to rise by 10-20%, they calculate, and the chances of passing 3C by 2100 are greater than 50%.