Julian Hunt: How good was this deal really?

Developing countries insist their economies must grow before cuts to emissions

Share
Related Topics

The current estimate for global temperature rise by 2100 is 3.5C. This is a devastating conclusion that underlines why many people, including myself, believe global warming represents the biggest threat to mankind. The international consensus that has emerged is that: global temperature rise should be limited to 2C; that emission policies should be determined at regional (eg. European), national and city level; and that the United Nations should monitor and co-ordinate these.

While a limited deal was reached at Durban, securing a comprehensive, global agreement is unlikely soon. A key problem is that governments are focused upon immediate issues such as financial fragility. There is also growing caution about long-lasting, tightly defined agreements that might affect flexibility.

Furthermore, some argue that an agreement is unnecessary because of future technological solutions, while another complicating factor is that many developing countries insist their economies must grow significantly before they can reduce total emissions.

Recent measurements are consistent with predicted effects in the atmosphere, ocean and on land caused by climate change. For instance, temperatures over land areas have steadily increased, while ocean surface layers in this decade have cooled especially over the Pacific. This is a long-lasting and natural cycle. But the deeper ocean has simultaneously been warming, resulting in a steady rise in global average sea level. In the tropical seas surrounding low-lying coastal areas the level is rising about three times faster, so local communities are at risk.

These and other disturbing phenomena are driving regional, national and city legislators to introduce bills and regulations to control emissions, preserve forests, marine areas and other critical environments. Moreover, 9,000 companies are working together and with governments to enable a framework for long-range investment.

Another positive is the high-level commitment by the UN and national governments to dealing with climate change which encouraged hundreds of organisations, engaged in practical programmes, to come to South Africa.

As the danger of international non-coordination is better understood, people will probably press governments harder for a comprehensive, global agreement. However, even such a deal will be useless without rigorous monitoring, and actions of governments and industry. High-level science and technology, and on-the-ground inspection, must also be foundations of the road map for tackling climate change.

Lord Julian Hunt is a visiting professor at Delft University of Technology, and vice-president of Global Legislators Organisation (Globe)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Ceiling and Flooring - £26,000 OTE

£26000 per annum + pension + career progression: h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Credit Reports - £100,000 OTE

£50000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager -Business Intelligence Software- £100,000 OTE

£50000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

David Cameron’s immigration speech: I broke my promise; this time will be different

John Rentoul
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game  

Manchester was ahead of the pack in honouring Alan Turing

Simon Kelner
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game