So far, our paltry COP15 emissions targets would lock in a much warmer world, and a much-changed United States.
It’s finally here. “The most important meeting in history.” The Copenhagen Climate Conference. COP15. The time when world leaders will come together to secure for future generations a safe and stable climate similar to that in which all life has evolved and modern societies have developed. Or will they?
The past couple of weeks have brought a flurry of activity as nations posture and present their starting positions for the negotiations. Some of the last cards to land on the table were long-awaited mitigation commitments from China, India, and the United States. So now, for really the first time, there’s a pretty clear view of what everyone is offering going into the talks. And from the proposals currently on the table, with the help of a couple remarkable tools and reports, we can get a good sense of what kind of world they would create.
First stop is the Climate Interactive Scoreboard, which collects all current mitigation proposals, runs the numbers through a finely-tuned simulation (built by MIT researchers and the Sustainability Institute), and spits out the projected global temperature rise by 2100. As things now stand, we’re looking at about a 3.8 degree Celsius (or 6.8 degree Fahrenheit) increase over historic averages, as you can see in the widget below. (This embedded graphic will automatically update as countries shift—and hopefully strengthen—their proposals, so hopefully it’ll read even lower than 3.8 degrees by the time you’re seeing this.) For some reference, as of 2005, temperatures had already increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius, and “business as usual” with no national mitigation efforts would warm the world by 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.
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