The latest twist today is the leaking to tck tck tck of an official assessment of the implications of current pledges in terms of the climate outcomes. The bottom line is that at best, by 2020, global emissions will still be at least 1.9 gigatonnes greater than the 44 gigatonne level estimated to give us even a 50:50 chance of keeping temperature rise to less than 2ºC. That level of emissions would most likely commit the world to at least a C rise. This analysis is based on pledges from both developed and developing countries, and a business as usual analysis which takes account of the current global recession.

The real situation is much worse:  the  safe and just temperature target is really 1.5ºC or lower, and the analysis acknowledges that many of the pledges it considers in the best case scenario are not guaranteed, and do not take account of loopholes in the mechanisms.

The paper itself suggests the excess might be 4.2 gigatonnes if countries only deliver the lower end of their pledges. Worse still it cites a possible 1.0 Gigatonnes if countries are allowed to carry forward ‘hot air’ from the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. FoEI estimates suggest this too is an optimistic assessment, and that taken together loopholes such as double counting in the ‘clean development mechanism’  would add 3 gigatonnes in total. I don’t know what an excess of 7 gigatonnes would mean for the long-term temperature rise, but I certainly don’t want to find out in practice.

Fundamentally this document shows that the negotiators – at least those from rich countries with close relations with the UNFCCC Secretariat (which prepared this document) – know how much they have to raise their ambition even to meet the 2ºC target: developed countries need to do 30% absolute cuts on aggregate and cut loopholes in international aviation and shipping, even if developing countries commit to cut emissions 20% below business as usual. Clearly our demands for at least 40% cuts in developed countries are the real minimum required.

So the rich countries know how much they have to do, and now this document is in the open, they know that we – and the poor countries – also know. Perhaps this will be the final straw to persuade the EU to lift its unilateral ambition to 30% cuts over 1990 levels when EU representatives meet in emergency session tonight.

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