New industrial revolution needed - expert

2011-12-05 17:13
Durban - Nothing short of a new energy industrial revolution is going to hold global warming below 2°C, economist Lord Nicholas Stern said on Monday.

He told reporters at COP 17 in Durban that radical cuts would have to be made in global greenhouse gas emissions.

"The numbers on climate change - if we’re going to have a reasonable chance, at least 50-50, of holding to 2°C - are very clear," Stern said.

"And it’s also clear that they imply that if we’re to achieve the reductions that we have to achieve to get to 2°... those reductions have to be radical, and to achieve it means a new energy industrial revolution."

Stern, author of the landmark Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, was speaking a day ahead of the start of high-level political negotiations at the climate change conference.

He said over the next 40 years, emissions had to be cut from about 50 billion tons of CO2 equivalent today down to well below 20.

"We have to divide absolute numbers by two-and-a-half."

If the world economy grew modestly by a factor of three over the next 40 years, "it means cutting emissions by three times two-and-a-half", which meant dividing emissions per unit of output by seven or eight.

"That’s a new energy industrial revolution by anybody’s standards," Stern said.

Robust discussions

He is set to moderate a so-called "Momentum for Change Initiative" on Tuesday at the UN conference.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) describes this as a "platform that aims to enhance the visibility of actions benefiting communities and families, while at the same time being successful in either increasing resilience to or reducing greenhouse gas emissions".

Among those attending the special event will be President Jacob Zuma and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

According to the UNFCCC, there are now 194 parties and 15 746 delegates at COP 17.

Speaking at Monday’s briefing, COP 17 president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said 12 heads of state and 130 ministers would attend the high-level segment of the conference.

On the negotiations, she said there had been "robust discussions" on the establishment of the Green Climate Fund and "clear progress" on agreements made at COP 16 in Cancun.

UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres said many decisions had been taken over the past week and were "on the table ready to be adopted" over the final days of the conference.

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