As the latest United Nations (UN) climate summit appears on the horizon, the UN has released a report that says current emissions pledges will not prevent temperatures from rising this century. Meanwhile, China has acknowledged it is the world's largest emitter, but refuses to halt emissions at the expense of its economy.
The BBC reports that the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has published a study which shows there is a significant gap in emissions targets between what science says is necessary to restrict global temperature increase and what world governments have committed to.
According to scientists, global emissions dropped 1.3% in 2009; however, this drop was largely due to the recession, and was considered insignificant. As the economy recovers emissions will rise again. Even if governments achieve the emissions targets they have set, the report indicates global temperatures will still rise between 2.5-5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
Although the data seems disheartening, Achim Steiner, UNEP's executive director states there is hope: "There is a gap between the science and current ambition levels. But what this report show is that the options on the table right now in negotiations can get us almost 60% of the way there. This is a good first step."
China Acknowledges it is King
China, the world's fastest developing country, has finally admitted publicly that it is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter. This revelation may be novel for Chinese officials, but international scientists have been claiming China has been the world's largest emitter since 2006.
According to BP, China's emissions rose 9% in 2009 to 7.5 billion tons -- 24% of global emissions.
Despite its immense contribution to globe's polluting emissions, China is not ready to agree to an internationally binding limit for greenhouse gas emissions. Such a treaty would most likely hinder the country's incredible economic growth.
China contends that such an agreement is unfair, as historically it has contributed less emissions, and its per-capita emissions is still relatively low. China prefers a non-binding treaty, where nations can take voluntary steps to reduce emissions.
A batlle between developed nations and developing nations was a major stumbling block at last year's Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Developing nations, led by China and India, wanted developed nations to take the brunt of the fianncial responsibility for reducing emissions, because they have been the world's largest emitters historically. Meanwhile developed nations such as the United States contended that developing nations needed to bear more responsibility considering they are producing 55% of the world's emissions.
This battle is likely to continue at the latest international climate talks in Cancun, Mexico which start at the end of the month.
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