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Scheduling for Durban - and beyond

11/24/2011 – At the moment, hardly anyone expects a breakthrough of the climate summit in Durban. Even before the negotiators from around the world come together in South Africa at the end of November, some observers already turn away bored. Especially for this reason, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) direct attention to questions that go beyond the summit with a whole series of media briefings these days. What happens if nothing happens in Durban? That is the natural scientific view on climate change. And what works if nothing works in Durban? That is the view on economy and politics. New scientific findings show ever clearer what the risks of resigning to human-made global warming could be – and what chances climate protection still offers.
Scheduling for Durban - and beyond

Foto: Deutsches Klima Konsortium (DKK)

“In the USA, a new survey examined all available climate data. It was initiated by people who question climate change, among them expert physicists such as Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter,” explains PIK Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. “But to the surprise of its initiators, the so-called BEST study also comes to the conclusion that the earth is warming – exactly as it has been calculated in earlier studies.” Last week, Schellnhuber spoke at an event of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and “Brot für die Welt”. The two organizations had asked him to present the state of climate sciences to then add their own political assessments.

Schellnhuber himself will probably go to Durban to participate in a debate with high-ranking climate politicians.

This thursday, Wolfgang Lucht, head of PIK research domain “Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities”, will speak at the Federal Press Conference. He will appear together with representatives of the Federal Environment Agency, the German Advisory Council on Global Change and the German Advisory Council on the Environment.

“If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have only a limited amount of CO2 left to emit,” Lucht said recently at the official media briefing of the Federal Foreign Office and the German Climate Consortium in front of 200 diplomats, industry representatives and journalists. He thereby refers to the so-called budget approach. How this budget is calculated and globally distributed needs to be discussed. “But if you accept the 2 degree target - which the countries of the world did at the last climate summit – you will have to accept that there is a limited emission budget as well,” said Lucht. “Therefore, specific emission limits need to be set now for every decade until 2050.”

Recently, more than two dozen journalists came to a full-day workshop to Potsdam. Stefan Rahmstorf, head of PIK research domain “Earth System Analysis”, talked about rising temperatures and the sea level, melting ice at the poles and extreme weather events. PIK´s chief economist Ottmar Edenhofer spoke about negotiation paths that could complement those of the 194 nations in Durban. At the centre are the big economies as players – and thematically for example technology funding, elimination of subsidies worth billions for fossil fuels and the linking of regional emission trading schemes. Chances and limits of adaptation to climate change were explained by Matthias Lüdeke, taking the Indian metropolis Hyderabad as an example.

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