Friday, December 18, 2009

Heat Over a Leaked UN Warming Analysis

By ANDREW C. REVKIN--A document leaked during climate negotiations reveals lots of heat ahead.

COPENHAGEN — Late today, environmentalists monitoring the climate talks alerted reporters to the existence of a six-page document, dated December 15th, that is a compilation by the United Nations office managing the talks of all the major countries’ plans for curbing their emissions, along with a calculation of where that would take the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and eventual temperature of the planet. United Nations officials confirmed the document’s authenticity but declined to discuss it.

The analysis concluded that without much stronger action to cut emissions both before and after 2020, “global emissions will remain on an unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations equal or above 550 p.p.m. [parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air] with the related temperature” rising 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That is far above the thresholds for dangerous warming being debated at the meeting and accepted in recent statements by the major economies of the world.

The conclusion that current plans for greenhouse gases would lead to substantial warming is not new and largely based on recent analysis by Sir Nicholas Stern, a British economist, and in step with findings of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere.

But environmental campaigners said they were outraged that the document so clearly showed that countries involved in the negotiations are aware of the gap ...

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