On long-term targets

What’s striking about the climate talks in Poznan is that (some) developed countries want a long-term goal, while (most) developing countries are only prepared to talk about the next few years. Here’s Xinhua:

The developed countries are seeking to set up a shared vision on long-term goal for emission cuts, saying that such a goal will set the direction for future actions.

Some industrialized countries believe that a 50-percent cut of emissions against the 1990 level by 2050 is necessary for the goal of preventing rising temperatures.

The developing nations, however, rejected such a global goal at this stage, arguing that such a vision is not feasible since there are no concrete plans for providing finance and technology required by the developing countries.

But really, it should be the other way round. Given that:

  • A limited emissions ‘cake’ is available between now and, say, 2050 (assuming an eventual attempt to stablize atmospheric GHG concentrations).
  • And that rich countries are consuming disportionate shares of that cake on every year.
  • Then poor countries are likely to receive a smaller slice the longer it takes to start negotiating a comprehensive allocation.

Short term deals (Kyoto, Kyoto 2, Kyoto 3 etc) suit developed countries. A full-term deal would allow developing countries to understand then try and protect their long-term interests…