Governments agree greenhouse curbs

 作者:钭赎     |      日期:2019-02-27 12:17:01
By Fred Pearce FOR the first time, industrial nations have agreed to set legally binding targets and timetables to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, starting from the year 2000. Last week in Geneva, most of the world’s governments agreed that major reductions in global emissions are “technically possible and economically feasible”. What the targets will be, however, remains to be decided. The breakthrough came after a major U-turn in which the American delegation aligned the White House unequivocally with scientists urging action. In his speech, undersecretary of state Timothy Wirth attacked “special interests bent on belittling, attacking and obfuscating climate change science . . . There can be no question but that the findings meet the highest standards of scientific integrity.” American energy generators, in particular, have tried to question the scientific conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second meeting of signatories to the UN climate change convention also singled out the possible long-term target of preventing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases rising to more than twice preindustrial levels. This benchmark may now govern international strategy on global warming for much of the next century. On current predictions, this target would restrict average global warming to 2 °C above preindustrial temperatures. But ministers in Geneva agreed that it would “eventually require global emissions [of greenhouse gases] to be less than 50 per cent of current levels”. The US’s acquiescence to legally binding targets, following years of prevarication, left Australia isolated among industrial Western nations in refusing to sign the declaration. The irony is that in the 1980s Australian government scientists were the first to predict in detail how global warming could damage their country. Fifteen oil and coal-producing nations, including Russia and Saudi Arabia,