Twenty Years of Struggle Against Global Warming


PARIS – Twenty years of fight against global warming and too few concrete results against CO2 emissions: formally adopted in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, the UN process against climate change today arouses little optimism.

“Climate change is like being in a car and try to stop before reaching the edge of a precipice”, explained to AFP Wael Hmaidan, director of the NGO International CAN (Climate Action Network) in late May during the last session of talks in Bonn (Germany).

“We’re trying to slow down, but we are still far to slow enough to avoid falling,” he added.

A study presented at this session in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) established in 1992, believes that the current actions against the emission of CO2 to prepare a warming planet of at least 3.5° C.

A perspective far removed from the threshold of 2° C compared to pre-industrial times that advocates science to escape the worst consequences of climate change: multiplication and intensification of heat waves and storms, rising standard of oceans, impacts on the economy, agriculture, biodiversity.

This objective of 2° C was officially adopted in 2010 by 194 countries negotiating under the auspices of the UN, but seems to move away year after year, while emissions of greenhouse gases on the planet continues to grow.

“Science tells us that to stabilize concentrations (CO2) to a level that would limit the temperature increase to 2° C at a lower cost, 2015 is the date that CO2 emissions must peak before decreasing” recalled Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, in the panel reference on climate change last December.

Not before 2020

Yet, at the Rio +20 summit (20-22 June in Brazil) which marks the 20th anniversary of Earth Summit, also wants to retain some progress.

“I would say the climate negotiations will undoubtedly be in the right direction but not speed and not to scale,” says the UN official for climate, Christiana Figueres.

Jonathan Pershing, a leading U.S. official in this arena, recalled that the preparatory meetings on climate met “the world” in a tiny room in February 1991.

“During the last major conference in Durban (December 2011), we had 10,000 people worldwide coverage and heads of state. Vision, the scale, the level of attention are absolutely new,”he said, while recognizing that there is” a long way to go. ”

The UN process, which took effect in 1994, has enabled the adoption in 1997 of the Kyoto Protocol, the only treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 37 industrialized countries.

China and India, have since become very large emitters of CO2, this treaty is now inadequate.

The negotiations stalled since the fiasco of Copenhagen in 2009. They are now trying to write a new treaty that would put the world on a better path. But this new regime will not see the days before 2020.


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