Nations stick to CO2 goals before January deadline

OSLO (Reuters) - The world is showing only lukewarm enthusiasm for a “Copenhagen Accord” to curb climate change, with no sign so far of deeper-than-planned 2020 curbs on greenhouse gas emissions before a January 31 deadline.

A chimney billows smoke as the sun shines through haze on a cold winter's day in Beijing December 24, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

In Brussels, a draft European Union letter on Friday showed plans for the 27-nation bloc to reiterate a minimum offer of a 20 percent cut in emissions by 2020 below 1990 levels, pleasing industry, and a 30 percent cut if other nations act comparably.

Other countries are likely to do the same after last month’s Copenhagen summit ended with a low-ambition accord. No nations have since announced radically tougher plans for action.

“I think that countries are going to stick to their ranges,” said Nick Mabey, head of the E3G think-tank in London. He said it was too early for an overhaul of national goals.

“It’s almost like the beginning of a new negotiation,” said Gordon Shepherd, director of international policy at the WWF environmental group.

Many countries were still torn between showing “a burst of enthusiasm” to rebuild momentum after Copenhagen and “complete caution,” taking time to review next moves, he said.

Few countries have so far sent letters to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat before a January 31 deadline for outlining goals for 2020 set by the Copenhagen Accord, which was worked out by major emitters led by China and the United States.


The deal sets a goal to limit global warming to a 2 degree Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) temperature rise above pre-industrial times but omits details of how. It also backs a target of $100 billion in annual aid for developing nations from 2020.

And it said rich countries should submit by January 31 their targets for cuts in emissions by 2020 and developing nations should outline actions for slowing the rise of emissions to help avert more heatwaves, sandstorms, floods and rising sea levels.

The U.S. Climate Action Network said Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, Ghana, Australia, France, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Maldives had indicated they were committed to the accord. Cuba has said it will not take part.

The U.N. Secretariat declined comment on the list.

The summit failed to adopt the Copenhagen Accord after opposition from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Sudan. That meant the conference merely “took note” of the plan.

The United Nations says the January 31 deadline is likely to be missed and that countries can sign up later. But experts say the accord would look in trouble if its main backers -- such as Washington and Beijing -- fail formally to sign up.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s provisional offer of a 17 percent emissions cut below 2005 levels by 2020 -- or 4 percent below the U.N. benchmark year of 1990 -- may be harder to achieve after the Democrats lost a key Senate seat this week.

China, India, South Africa and Brazil will meet in New Delhi on Sunday.

Among those with most ambitious goals, Norway said before Copenhagen it would cut emissions by 30 percent by 2020, and might go to 40 percent. “Norway will submit its number by the deadline, but we have not decided the level of ambition,” environment ministry spokeswoman Tone Hertzberg said.

(Additional reporting by Pete Harrison in Brussels; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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