BRUSSELS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The European Commission urged
the world on Tuesday to stick with a goal of limiting climate
change to a maximum temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6
F) after Washington said the target could not be guaranteed.
"World leaders pledged in Copenhagen to stay below the 2C
temperature increase. What leaders promised must now be
delivered," Commission spokesman Isaac Valero-Ladron said of a
2009 climate summit in the Danish capital.
Almost 200 nations including the United States backed the
target that rises in average world temperatures should be below
2C above pre-industrial times, viewed as a threshold for
dangerous changes in the Earth's climate.
Global average temperatures have already risen by 0.8C,
blamed by a U.N. panel of climate scientists on increasing
greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels.
Todd Stern, the U.S. climate change envoy, said in an Aug. 2
speech that Washington wanted a more flexible approach to a new
U.N. agreement, due to be adopted in 2015, so that it could be
modified over time such as to take account of new technologies.
"This kind of flexible, evolving legal agreement cannot
guarantee that we meet a 2 degree goal, but insisting on a
structure that would guarantee such a goal will only lead to
deadlock," he said.
The Copenhagen summit failed to produce a new U.N. deal to
limit climate change and the revised target is for talks to end
with a global pact in 2015 that would enter into force in 2020.
The European Union has long insisted on the 2C maximum,
agreed by U.S. President Barack Obama at a G8 summit in 2009,
viewing it as a trigger for dangerous changes such as more
heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.
"Consolidated science continues to remind us of the dire
consequences of going beyond such a temperature increase,"
But the 2C target is slipping away as emissions rise.
A Climate Action Tracker by scientists in May estimated that
the world is headed for a rise of about 3.5 degrees Celsius,
based on existing promises for curbs in planet-warming
greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, rose
3.1 percent in 2011 to a record high and the decade ended in
2010 was the warmest, U.N. data showed.
Stern said it was better to start with actions that could
spur innovation and to build political support. China, the
United States, the European Union, India and Russia are the main
emitters of greenhouse gases.
(Reporting By Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing
by Janet Lawrence)