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Waiting on new climate deal ‘will set world on a path to 5C warming’

June 10, 2013

Waiting on new climate deal ‘will set world on a path to 5C warming’

The world cannot afford to wait for a new global climate change agreement to come into force in 2020, because doing so will mean an end to hopes of limiting global warming to moderate levels, one of the world’s foremost authorities on energy has warned.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy rose by 1.4% in 2012 to a record high of more than 31bn tonnes, according to a report from the International Energy Agency. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, and one of the world’s most respected energy experts, expressed that greenhouse gas emissions were continuing to rise so fast that pinning hopes on a replacement for the Kyoto protocol would set the world on a path to 5C of warming.

Birol urged governments to take urgent action on improving energy efficiency, replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon power, stopping the construction of inefficient power plants and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, as low or no-cost ways of reducing emissions quickly. “This will not harm economic growth, and they are policies that can be taking in fragile economic context,” he said.

Governments are negotiating under the United Nations to forge a global deal on emissions that would be signed in 2015 but not come into force until 2020. Until then, most countries have their own voluntary goals to curb carbon, but these fall well short of the cuts that scientists say are needed to limit temperature rises to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, which is regarded as the limit of safety beyond which warming is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

Read more at The Guardian.

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