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China a leader in fight on climate change?
by Staff Writers
Sydney (UPI) Apr 29, 2013

Climate chief warns of 'urgency' as CO2 levels rise
Paris (AFP) April 29, 2013 - The UN's climate chief called for urgency Monday as she opened a new round of global talks amid warnings that Earth-warming carbon dioxide levels were approaching a symbolic threshold never seen in human history.

Data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have shown the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to be at 399.72 parts per million (ppm), Christiana Figueres told climate negotiators in Bonn.

"We are just about to cross the 400 ppm threshold," she said in a prepared speech that stressed "a heightened sense of urgency".

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which informs policy makers on the science of global warming, has said the atmospheric CO2 level must be limited to 400 ppm for Earth's average temperature rise to be contained at between two and 2.4 degrees Celsius (3.6 and 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

The talks in Bonn are the first since negotiations in Qatar last December set down a two-track process for tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

The main goal is a new climate treaty that will be concluded by 2015 and take effect by 2020.

Pre-2020, countries agreed to seek ways of closing the growing gap between carbon emission targets and the actual curbs required to contain warming to a manageable two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels.

The US-based Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which keeps a record of the Mauna Loa figures, said last week that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere could in May rise above 400 ppm for the first time in human history.

The observatory's record starts at 316 ppm in March 1958, rising every year.

Atmospheric levels of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, were probably last as high as 400 ppm in the Pliocene period, between 3.2 million and five million years ago when Earth was a warmer place, Scripps said in a statement.

The carbon concentration never exceeded 300 ppm for some 800,000 years, it added. Before the Industrial Revolution, when man first started pumping carbon into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, CO2 levels were at about 280 ppm.

China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is demonstrating leadership in the fight against climate change, a new report says.

The release of Australia's Climate Commission's "The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change" report Monday coincided with the opening of the latest round of international climate change talks in Bonn, Germany.

China's total investment in clean energy in 2012 was $65.1 billion, 20 percent more than the year before.

"This was unmatched by any nation and represented 30 percent of the entire (Group of 20) nations' investment in 2012," the report states.

Still, China faces "multiple drivers for domestic climate action," the report points out, including reducing air and water pollution, limiting risks from climate change, improving energy and water security, enhancing the competitiveness of its economy and becoming a global leader in advanced energy technologies.

China has pledged to reduce emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 percent, relative to 2005 by 2020.

While China's growth in electricity demand and the use of fossil fuels is expected to continue over the next two decades, the report says, China's annual growth in demand for electricity slowed from around 11 percent to 5.7 percent in 2012.

"After a doubling of electricity demand over the last decade, this is a substantial achievement," the report states. "If China continues to reduce its growth in demand for electricity and fossil fuels it could curb its emissions growth sooner than previously expected."

Within the next few months China will establish seven trial emissions trading schemes, and the government aims to have an emissions trading scheme in place for the country by 2016.

The report also says that the United States is on track to achieve its target of a reduction of 17 percent below 2005 levels in greenhouse gas emissions.

China and the United States together emit about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report applauded the China-U.S. "Climate Change Working Group" announced during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to China this month.

Tim Flannery, chief climate commissioner of the Climate Commission and a co-author of the report, in a commentary in The Conversation said the two countries are taking steps to become global leaders in climate action.

"However, all countries must move beyond their current commitments to reduce emissions," Flannery wrote. "This is the critical decade to turn the global emissions trend downwards and to set the global foundations for our future."


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China becoming global climate change leader: study
Sydney (AFP) April 29, 2013
China is rapidly assuming a global leadership role on climate change alongside the United States, a new study said Monday, but it warned greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continue to rise strongly. The report by the independent Australian-based Climate Commission, "The Critical Decade: International Action on Climate Change" presents an overview of action in the last nine months. It was ... read more

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