Durban: an ambivalent outcome

12/11/2011 – The outcome of the Durban summit is ambivalent, according to leading scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), interviewed by various media. The world map of climate politics has changed, said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. “China is not speaking for the poor countries any longer, which have joined forces with Europe instead.” The EU and Germany “had a strong showing in Durban,” adds Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of PIK. However, both are stressing the fact that too little has been achieved at the negotiations. The more than 190 states did not agree on a binding reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.
Durban: an ambivalent outcome

“One could formulate two headlines: ‘Breakthrough towards a world climate treaty’ – or, this would be the negative version, ‘License to do nothing for one more decade’. Both statements are correct,” said Schellnhuber in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “At least, a common platform for a new climate treaty has been created. Still, there is a double drawback. It remains unclear what will be quantified in the treaty; it is possible that everyone can participate for peanuts, without a substantial reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. Second, 2020 is too late as target year. The train might start rolling in 2020, but where it is aiming for might have ceased to exist by then. The aim is to limit global warming to two degrees max, compared to pre-industrial temperatures. With irony one could say: There goes a train to nowhere.”

Ottmar Edenhofer told the German Press Agency (dpa): “The outcome is greater than I expected. What has not been achieved, however, is the necessary reduction of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, at least international institutional preconditions have been created which in this form seemed unthinkable just a few days ago. The result is encouraging, but not more than this. Further initiatives seem indispensable – for instance, in the framework of G20 a common technology policy for promoting renewable energy or an elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels that the G20 already decided upon.”

More statements can be found at the Xinhua news agency which interviewed Ottmar Edenhofer on Monday, as well as in the German public service TV news Tagesthemen, aired Sunday night or the economic daily Handelsblatt. Stefan Rahmstorf, chair of PIK’s Earth system analysis research domain, was live on Morgenmagazin of ZDF and ARD and in the science radio show of Deutschlandfunk.


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