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…

The climate can wait

Today, the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change will release a 500-page report telling us all we need to slash our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and that switching to cleaner cars is crucial if the target is to be achieved. Last week, however, the same UK Government, in its pre-budget report, scrapped plans to raise vehicle excise duty by £90 for high polluting cars and delayed a £15 tax break for drivers of greener cars. In the Sunday Times, Frank Sangster of KPMG argued: “The Chancellor has effectively decided to prioritise fiscal sustainability over environmental sustainability. Drivers of gasguzzling 4x4s are thus getting off lightly.”

So much for joined-up government.