Monday, November 25, 2013

Warsaw Climate Conference Ends

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has just concluded their most recent meeting to once more discuss, negotiate and talk about climate change without any notable progress. This meeting was in Warsaw. The delegates manged to agree how on calculate emissions reductions and a method to address impact from rising sea levels at the last minute. The true failure was that China, the largest emitter of CO2, was left without commitments and only agreed to "contribute" towards treaty goals.. The goal of all these meetings is to negotiate a new agreement by 2015 that will become effective by 2020 to replace and expand the Kyoto Protocol. Though officially, the goal is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report on climate change released in September 2013 expects global surface temperatures for the end of the 21st century to likely increase 2.7°F to 3.6°F relative to 1850 to 1900 time period.  The IPCC Working Group also found that it is “extremely likely that the changes in our climate system for the past half a century are due to human influence.”

The Warsaw meeting experienced more setbacks than progress by the organizers. Japan has been forced by the loss of its nuclear power plants in Fukushima caused by the earthquake that hit the region to reduce its previous commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. Environmental activists and climate scientists, the Alliance of Small Island States, the Africa Group and the Least Developed Countries group all walked out of the meetings in protest for failure of the developed world to accept responsibility to global warming. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPS) is developing regulations on limiting CO2 emissions on existing power plants, Australia’s House of Representatives have voted to repeal their carbon tax. Organizers of the UNFCCC meetings have pinned their hopes for true progress on the 2015 Paris meeting. No real progress was made at this meeting.

IPCC and the scientific consensus have pivoted slightly in their focus to the oceans, sea level rise and extreme weather event frequency because of a failure of the climate models to explain the current global temperature anomaly.  The climate models cannot account for the recent pause in global temperatures. From 1970 to 2000 the median surface temperature as recorded by measurements increased 0.3 ± 0.04°F per year. However, there has been little further warming of the surface of the planet, particularly over the oceans in the most recent 10 years.
From NOAA web site
We cannot even stabilize the world CO2 emissions yet the UNFCCC continues to meet and talk. As each region or county industrializes the world CO2 emissions have grown. World CO2 emissions are 146% of 1990 levels. Europe has stabilized their emissions and with effort under the Kyoto Treaty has decreased them 2.8% from 1990 levels. The U.S. seems to have finally begun its stabilization and reduction process in the past few years, but since 1990 has increased emissions by 9.5% and the cost of stabilizing the CO2 emission might be the economic contraction of the 2008 recession and the stagnant economy since that time. The far more populous emerging nations have blown past us in CO2 emissions. Asia (including India) has increased their CO2 emissions by 270% since 1990, and China has increased their CO2 emissions by 352% since 1990. There appears to be a lack of progress towards any goal or agreement at UNFCCC conferences.

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