No genuine greenhouse gas cuts from Doha | Connect Asia

No genuine greenhouse gas cuts from Doha

No genuine greenhouse gas cuts from Doha

Updated 10 December 2012, 14:16 AEST

A deal was finally clinched in the dying hours of the United Nations climate talks, but few people, especially climate scientists, appear to be celebrating the outcome.

The Doha meeting delivered a weakened Kyoto protocol, and agreed to continue tracking towards a new agreement by 2015.

There were, however, no commitments for genuine cuts in greenhouse gases.

It comes as a new report published in the journal Nature confirms the accuracy of the UN's chief science body's climate projections... and 20 years after its initial forecast, the rate of warming is consistent with its original predictions.

Correspondent: Sarah Clarke

Speaker: Matt England from the University of New South Wales

MATT ENGLAND: Well what it's done is it's analysed the very first consensus projections of climate change that were made in the 1990 IPCC report, for the first report of the IPCC. And there's been 22, 23 years since that report was compiled and it shows that the projections of that report have actually come true.

We've sat back and watched the two decades unfold and warming has progressed at a rate consistent with those projections.

SARAH CLARKE: And there's been criticism in the past of whether or not the IPCC is on track. Is that quashing that criticism?

MATT ENGLAND: Oh absolutely. There are people actually out there trying to say that the IPCC has overstated or overestimated climate change. This report shows very clearly that the projections have occurred.

SARAH CLARKE: So the forecast was of a predicted rise of 0.7 to 1.5 degrees, is that right?

MATT ENGLAND: That's right, and it's by 2030, so we're halfway through this projected period. And the warming to date is consistent with that projection.

And so anybody out there lying that the IPCC projections are overstatements or that the observations haven't kept pace with the projections is completely offline with this. The analysis is very clear that the IPCC projections are coming true.

SARAH CLARKE: And given the recent papers that have suggested that we're on average increasing our global emissions by 3 per cent and we're 58 per cent above the 1990 levels, can you see these IPCC figures and forecasts tracking on the right direction by 2030 or do you think they'll increase?

MATT ENGLAND: Oh absolutely, if anything they will increase. I mean we do run a whole range of scenarios for future projections. We have to take account of the possibility of big action on climate change and that's what we call a low end scenario of emissions, right through high end scenarios.

And at the moment we are tracking at the high end in terms of our emissions and so all of the projections that we look to at the moment are those high end forecasts.

And so yes, without any action on greenhouse gas emissions, it will be those high end IPCC scenarios that are extremely costly to society in terms of extreme events bearing out in time.

SARAH CLARKE: As a climate scientist, are you disappointed with what's come out of Doha given some of the forecasts and predictions that climate science has been delivering?

MATT ENGLAND: Well it's been consistent over the past decade, so in some sense the disappointment already occurred a decade ago. I mean the warnings about ongoing greenhouse gas emissions have been in place for three or four decades now so it's hard to sort of get disappointed each time there is a lack of action.

Certainly things are on track for high end climate change and that's going to cost humanity deeply in time. And it's just a matter of we keep telling this message that the projections are coming true and unfortunately too many people are out there trying to derail the science and pretend or lie that it's not bearing true in time. And policymakers are either listening to that too much or just ignoring this is as too big a problem to solve.

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