Proposal for 50% cut in emissions by 2050

WEALTHY nations would commit to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, and the world should strive to nearly eliminate them – or at least cut them in half – by 2050 under a draft text circulated yesterday at the UN climate talks.

The document pulled together the main elements of a global pact that 192nations have been negotiating for two years, but left numbers on financing and cutting greenhouse gas emissions – perhaps the most contentious bargaining points of the agreement – for world leaders to hammer out next week.

The draft was meant to focus attention on the broad goals the world must achieve to avoid irreversible change in climate that scientists say could bring many species to extinction and cause upheavals in the human environment in many parts of the Earth.

The draft accord said all countries together should reduce emissions by 50% to 95% by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year.

So far, pledges from the industrial countries amounted to far less than the minimum. But the European Union, at a summit in Brussels, said it was raising its 2020 target to 30%, in a gambit intended to push other wealthy nations to deepen their emissions-reduction pledges during negotiations next week.

The six-page draft document distilled a much-disputed 180-page negotiating text, laying out the obligations of industrial and developing countries in curbing the growth of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

News of the document came as the EU leaders agreed in Brussels to commit €2.4 billion a year until 2012 to a short-term fund to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The EU also conditionally lifted its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 30% below 1990 levels over the next decade, depending on better commitments by the US and Canada.

The draft agreement is less specific than other proposals and attempts to bridge the divide between rich and poor countries. It leaves much to be decided by more than 110 heads of state, including US President Barack Obama, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and most of Europe’s top leadership, due to arrive in the Danish capital in one week’s time for a landmark summit.

The draft, drawn up by Michael Zammit Cutajar of Malta, said global emissions of greenhouse gases should peak “as soon as possible”. But controlling carbon emissions should be subordinate to the effort to wipe out poverty and develop the economies of the world’s poorest nations, it said.

It called for new funding in the next three years by wealthy countries to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate, but mentioned no figures.

And it made no specific proposals on long-term help for developing countries.

Outside the negotiating complex in Copenhagen, police detained 40 people in the first street protests linked to the conference. There were no reports of violence.


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