Cancun conclusions

Here is a link to an article by Roger Pielke Jr. on the Cancun climate conference. For him its the same old, same old… and I think he’s right on this one. While I agree in the diagnosis of the situation I would differ slightly on the proposed solutions. Certainly technology has a role to play in climate action, but is it THE solution? Roger has spoken more before about adaptation and helping those who are most in need, but mentions nothing here.  Adaptation is a major direction of action that has been embraced even in Cancun. Below some highlights:

  • The reason for Japan’s stance is not difficult to fathom. Following the historic election of August, 2009, the new  government, in what was undoubtedly a moment of populist exuberance, promised to increase Japan’s emissions reduction commitment from a 15 percent reduction by 2020 (from 2005 levels) to 37 percent.  Such a reduction, which would likely turn into Japan’s international commitment under a Kyoto 2, is simply not practically achievable.  Professor Tetsuo Yuhara of the University of Tokyo estimated that among the actions required to meet the target would be 600,000 new solar installations each year, 15 new nuclear power plants, electric vehicles comprising 90 percent of all new purchases, and a carbon price of $80 per tonne (1tonne = 1.1 tons, US).  With one of the most carbon-efficient major economies on the planet, an emissions reduction of 37 percent by 2020 are not remotely possible in Japan, under even very modest economic growth.
  • The more likely outcome is that in 2011 the international negotiations will see the US, Canada, Russia, Japan, and even the EU continue to maintain that developing countries will have to take on binding commitments to emissions reductions, and the BASIC countries will stand firm in their position that such binding commitments are simply not going to happen.  The 2011 climate confab will end either in recrimination, like Copenhagen, or in a largely meaningless agreement, like Cancun, with a promise that 2012 is when the action will really take place.

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