Vulnerable Nations at Copenhagen Summit Reject 2C Target

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by
The Guardian/UK

Vulnerable Nations at Copenhagen Summit Reject 2C Target

Alliance of Small Island States say any deal that allows temperatures to rise by more than 1.5C is 'not negotiable'

by
John Vidal in Copenhagen

Activists supporting the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu demonstrate in the lobby of the Bella center demanding a better deal for all island states at the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009.Tuvalu proposed amending the U.N. climate treaty to require the world's nations to keep the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above preindustrial levels. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

More than half the world's countries say they are determined not to
sign up to any deal that allows temperatures to rise by more than 1.5C
- as opposed to 2C, which the major economies would prefer.

But
any agreement to reach that target would require massive and rapid cuts
in greenhouse gas emissions combined with removal of CO2 in the
atmosphere. An extra 0.5C drop in temperatures would require vastly
deeper cuts in carbon dioxide and up to $10.5 trillion (£6.5tr) extra
in energy-related investment by 2030, according to the International
Energy Agency.

Holding temperatures to an increase of 1.5C
compared to preindustrial levels would mean stabilising carbon
concentrations in the atmosphere at roughly 350 parts per million
(ppm), down from a present 387ppm. No technology currently exists to
feasibly remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale.

The temperature issue was starkly highlighted yesterday when Tuvalu, one of the world's most climate-threatened countries, formally proposed that countries sign up to a new, strengthened and legally binding agreement
that would set more ambitious targets than what is presently being
proposed. This divided G77 countries, some of whom led by China and
India argued against it, fearing that it would replace the Kyoto
protocol.

But they were supported by many of the
vulnerable countries, from sub-Saharan Africa as well as the small
island states, with passionate and powerful statements about the
catastrophic impact of climate change on their people.

"Tuvalu
has taken a strong stand to put the focus back on their bottom line.
Nothing but a legally binding deal will deliver the strong commitments
to urgent action that are needed to avoid catastrophe, especially to
the most vulnerable countries and people," said the Oxfam spokesman
Barry Coates.

Today the Alliance of Small Island States
(Aosis), a grouping of 43 of the smallest and most vulnerable
countries, including Tuvalu, said any rise of more than 1.5C was not
negotiable at Copenhagen. They are backed by 48 of the least developed
nations.

But the UN conference chief, Yvo de Boer,
implied this morning that the proposal had little chance of being
adopted. "It is theoretically possible that the conference will agree
to hold temperatures to 1.5C but most industrialised countries have
pinned their hopes on 2C," he said.

The 2C figure, which was included in the leaked draft negotiating text
prepared by the summits host Denmark has emerged as the figure favoured
by large economies and the likeliest to be adopted. But the poorest
countries say that latest science implies that a 2C warming would lead
to disastrous consequences – for example from sea level rise.

"We
have two research stations, one in the Pacific and one in the
Caribbean. They both suggest a rise of 2C is completely untenable for
us," said Dessima Williams, a Grenadian diplomat speaking for Aosis.

"Our
islands are disappearing, our coral reefs are bleaching, we are losing
our fish supplies. We bring empirical evidence to Copenhagen of what
climate change is doing now to our states," she said.

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