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By Diego Arguedas Ortiz
Climate neutrality implies the reduction of annual emissions of gases that cause the greenhouse effect to a point at which all of these released gases can be captured or fixed. For this, it is essential to accelerate the transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy.
When the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) on climate change reaches its halfway point, the number of developing countries in the South who take up the proposal to set the 2050 goal of climate neutrality, also known as net zero, increases.
"The scientific data are becoming more alarming," Costa Rican Giovanna Valverde, president pro tempore of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), a group of middle-income regional governments that negotiate as a bloc in the conference, which takes place from Monday 1 to 12.
“The coordinator of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change) showed us the data in the plenary session that shows how urgent we are. If we put 2050 it is so that everyone can join, but the numbers are alarming and anticipate, "he added.
Reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Energy Agency and the IPCC agree on how to achieve neutrality: invest more in clean energy, reduce fossil fuel consumption, improve agricultural practices, reforest and boost energy efficiency.
The initiative to move on that path through climate neutrality became a star debate in the first week of the annual conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but there is much left to crystallize in a commitment to countries to ensure the transition to a clean economy.
A report by the British Overseas Development Institute found that the industrial and emerging powers of the Group of 20 continue to invest about 88,000 million dollars annually in subsidies to fossil fuels, instead of using that capital in promoting renewable energy.
In addition, in the COP 20 spaces, the power and lobby of the hydrocarbon industry is palpable and there is no shortage of meetings organized by transnational corporations in the sector, such as the Anglo-Dutch Shell, scheduled for Monday 8.
The Costa Rican Valverde assured that the key is "that the countries seriously commit to the information in the contributions in reducing emissions so that scientists have time between 2015 and 2020 to compare country methodologies, do the mathematical summation and define how much remains to be reduced ”.
The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) issued a statement urging industrial countries to make these contributions more “ambitious”, reducing dependence on dirty energy.
AOSIS called for the planet to reach zero emissions by 2100, which implies a total elimination of the use of fossil fuels, as recommended by the IPCC in its last report, on November 2. Countries like Poland, a coal-producing powerhouse, announced their rejection of the measure.
Their opposition and that of other fossil fuel-dependent countries are hampering the advancement of clean energy. The European Union (EU), for example, has not agreed on a long-term goal within the bloc and is not sure whether it will support the climate neutrality presented by the UNFCCC and promoted by developing countries.
"The goal is part of the mitigations, it is part of the discussion," one of the leaders of the EU negotiations, Elina Bardram, told IPS, for whom "it is important that when we arrive in Paris we have a shared vision". reference to COP 21, to be held in the French capital in November 2015.
“This will tell us what the ambition will be for a low-carbon future. We are not yet clear on the long-term goal, but of course we will take into account the vision of the IPCC and other scientific bodies, "he said.
A new global and binding climate treaty must be established in Paris, which from 2020 will replace the Kyoto Protocol.
But first, in Lima the form that what many consider to be the heart of the new agreement will have: national contributions must be defined. These contributions include how much reduction each nation commits to and in how long. The sum of these contributions must be sufficient to avoid irreversible effects on Earth's planetary dynamics.
To achieve this, developing countries and civil society from both the South and the North propose a mix of reducing incentives for fossil fuels, reforestation and agricultural improvements, and investment in renewable energy.
Although these contributions must be officially reported between next March and June, some countries have already made announcements in this regard.
On November 12, in a joint announcement in Beijing, the United States promised to cut 26-28 percent of its emissions by 2025 from 2005, and China pledged to cap its emissions by 2030 and then cut them.
But scientific studies warn that more ambitious and faster steps are required.
Actions must be taken before 2020, according to the "Report on the disparity in emissions 2014", with which UNEP annually analyzes the difference between the current actions of the countries and those necessary to avoid having serious effects on planetary dynamics, published on November 19.
"This report makes clear that at a certain point in the second half of the 21st century we will have to achieve climate neutrality, or as some call it net zero, in terms of global emissions," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres .
According to this study, the peak of global emissions should occur in the next 10 years, followed by actions to implement more clean energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels.
This is known as the “pre-2020 reduction agenda” and the entry into force of the new treaty. Until now in Lima the delegates have postponed the review of these pre-2020 reductions, engaged in procedural struggles.
Now, countries run the risk of not agreeing on the actions required to reduce emissions so that the rise in temperature does not exceed two degrees Celsius, and there are even voices that warn that the maximum increase must be less, before there is irreversible effects on the planet.
"Our position is that the increase in temperature cannot exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, since more than that would be too harmful," Ram Prasad, coordinator of the Most Vulnerable Countries (LDC) group, told IPS. .
Climate action is urgent, as each year that passes complicates the situation more for the
most vulnerable countries, which are usually the poorest nations on the planet, making climate change a profound problem of inequity, he explained.
The UNEP report concluded that to adapt to the changing climate, the world will need about three times more than the between 70 and 100 billion dollars annually estimated so far.
Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez
Inter Press Service - IPS Venezuela