Vienna Talks Reach Consensus on Key Elements for Response to Climate Change; Targets 25-40% GHG Cuts Below 1990 Levels by 2020
A round of climate change talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in Austria today with agreement on key elements for an international response to climate change.
Negotiators officially recognized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) indication that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and then be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000 by mid-century, if concentrations are to be stabilized at safe levels.
The group also officially recognized that avoiding the most catastrophic forecasts made by the IPCC, including very frequent and severe droughts and water-shortages in large parts of the world, would entail emission reductions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 by industrialized countries.
The targets are in no way binding, but set the stage for the major UN conference in December in Bali that will seek to advance future action on climate change post-2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
The working group noted that “the mitigation potential of Annex I Parties is determined by national circumstances and evolves over time.”
Countries have been able to reassess the big picture of what is needed by identifying the key building blocks for an effective response to climate change. There is a consensus that the response needs to be global, with the involvement of all countries and that it needs to give equal importance to adaptation and mitigation.—UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer
Government delegates also debated how the response can be enabled by an approach that opens the way for financial flows to climate-friendly and climate-proof investments. This was based on a report on the investment and financial flows relevant to the development of an effective and appropriate international response to climate change, presented to the conference by the UN Climate Change Secretariat. (Earlier post.)