The debate is over. Climate change is happening and the time for action is now.
As the most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) show, immediate action is necessary to keep climate change as far below a 2 degrees Celsius mean temperature rise as possible. The impact of climate change is already being felt, particularly in the poorest countries of the world—those with least capacity to adapt and least historical responsibility for causing climate change. The IPCC reports show that our “mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades will have a large impact on opportunities to achieve lower stabilization levels”. In other words, global emissions need to peak by 2015 and then be reduced to at least 50% by 2050 (from 1990 levels).
We are encouraged that your minister Vilas Muttamwar has announced that a new renewable law will be enacted for India in six months. The draft law envisages an increase in the target for electricity generation to 10% by 2010 (as against 2012 currently) and 20% by 2020 of the total power generated in the country.
It is heartening to know that climate change, the most urgent challenge facing humankind, is at last taking centre stage globally. From Asean to Apec and the G8, climate change is high on the agenda. However, not enough urgency prevails in discussions and there is insufficient momentum towards the crucial United Nations climate negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, in December this year.
To increase this momentum, we call on you to attend the high level meeting that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has convened in New York on 24 September. This meeting must show the world is rising to the challenge of climate change. It must send a clear signal that a Bali mandate, which will deliver meaningful commitments for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, will be agreed. The Bali mandate must set the world on a course to stay as far below a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise as possible. This requires:
·Achieving a peak in global emissions by 2015.
·A deep cut in emissions, led by developed countries, that must commit as a group to at least a 30% cut by 2020 and virtually complete decarbonization by 2050.
·Including more players in the Kyoto regime, which means newly industrialized countries with high income such as Mexico, South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia should join the Kyoto system and adopt binding targets for the next commitment period that contribute to the –30% by 2020 target.
·Developed countries should create incentives for rapidly industrializing countries such as China, Brazil, India and South Africa to join the Kyoto emissions trading system through sectoral targets or other quantified action commitments for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
·A massive new clean technology deployment fund system to be funded by the developed countries aimed at switching to clean, efficient, renewable technology in developing countries.
·A deforestation reduction mechanism that provides the necessary financing to arrest deforestation in the next 15 years. The reductions from forest protection must be additional to cuts in industrial emissions.
·An adaptation track with adaptation financing on a much larger scale coupled with a deeper analysis of adaptation needs.
·This package to be agreed to by 2009 at the latest.
We hope that you will set out a vision for this Bali mandate in the 24 September meeting and work with other nations to deliver an agenda for real action in Bali.
As Germany’s chancellor Merkel said at Heiligendamm: “We cannot choose the targets.” Nature defines the targets and the timetable needed to avoid dangerous climate change, and it is clear that there is no time for diversions or dead ends.
We need to cut global emissions by at least 50% by 2050. “Aspirational targets”, which are being promoted by some at fora such as Apec or the ‘major economies meeting’ in Washington, will not be effective in securing the emission reductions required.
We can reduce emissions from the power sector by 50% in 2050 if we ensure both a massive uptake of sustainable renewable energy options and double the efficiency with which we use energy.
However, “energy intensity targets”, proposed as a sufficient solution by some, will not deliver the energy efficiency drive the world needs. In 2002, US President Bush set a voluntary target of reducing US energy intensity 18% by 2012. However, overall greenhouse gas emissions are still projected to increase by 12% over that period, as the US administration failed to ensure an economy-wide cap of emissions. Without a cap, energy efficiency increases tend to be eaten up by further production and consumption.
We count on your support and look forward to working with you on making true, multilateral progress on climate change in the coming months.
G. Ananthapadmanabhan is executive director of Greenpeace India. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org