Saturday, December 05, 2009

COP15 - hopeful or hopeless?

COP15, the Climate Submit will be started on 7 Dec. The world leaders will prepare a new international agreement, the Copenhagen Protocol to take over the Kyoto Procotol which will be expired in 2010. Before the Submit, many countries with great amount of GHG emission have declare their own goal on controlling emission according to its own standard. They claimed that it would balance the need for economic development in developing countries and controlling emission. They think that the developed countries should share more responsibility for what they did since the last industrial revolution.

Many countries define their own goal by different measurements. Some are based on the emission level in 1990, but some are based on 2005. Some measure the gigaton of carbon dioxide, some measure the carbon intensity. It has to find out original reason for reduction of emission such that we can determine whether the measurement is reasonable.

The carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas in the atmosphere had been increased rapidly since industrial revolution. The carbon dioxide should be absorbed by plants under normal situation. However, the amount of emission is far higher than the amount of absorption. Therefore, carbon dioxide has being accumulated so that the average surface temperature increases. It is a big damage to the Earth made by human. The accumulative amount of human emission can be interpreted as debt. Human has to pay the debt.

After the Earth being hurted, not all the damages can be compensated. Because of rise of surface temperature, some species had died out and some animals had changed their behaviour. For example, the polar bears attack the walrus (海象) because they cannot find any more floating ice to hide from the Bearded Seals. Nobdoy can be sure that polar bears can get back to normal if the temperature becomes normal. Extra effort may be needed to recover the Earth. Similar to debt, interest should be paid, sometimes cannot be paid.

How much is the debt? In terms of quantity, the ultimate goal should be the accumulated amount of greenhouse gas emission made by human. Based on a report made by a big accounting firm, global greenhouse gas emission should be reduced by 2% per year in order to prevent from the global tragedy.This maximum amount is called global carbon budget. Unfortunately, the accounting firm find that the Earth runs out of it.It is because only 0.8% of global emission was reduced annualy from 2000 to 2008. Therefore, the gap is about emission of USA in two years. If we fill the gap, we need to reduce global emission by at least 3.5% annualy from 2008 to 2020. It is a drastic drop and it is very hard to do.

In the sense of ethics, it is a crime to make damage to the Earth. Someone else commits the crime. It does not mean that it is morally right for us to commit the crime. Europe and North America emitted GHG. It is not morally right for Brazil, China and other developing countries to emit GHG. Now, both China and India set their own goal by carbon intensity. It would mislead how much GHG can be reduced. Only real reduction in GHG emission can make real effort.

(Chinese Version)

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