At the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011 - which runs from Monday November 28 to December 9 in Durban, South Africa - world leaders will discuss ways to prepare for global climate change and how to limit greenhouse gas emissions as well as best practices and global policies.
The conference, also known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was first held in 1994.
Where Do Nations Stand Today?
Every nation has an impact on the world’s climate. US President Barack Obama told reporters in Australia that he hopes developing countries will take responsibility for their contribution to climate change although, he admitted, it will take them time to catch up to developed nations.
He said: "It doesn't mean that they have to do exactly what we do, we understand that in terms of per capita carbon emissions they've got a long way to go before they catch up to us, but it does mean that they've got to take seriously their responsibilities as well.”
Obama also stated he hoped the United States, over the course of the next several years, can reduce its large carbon footprint. He praised Australia for its newly passed carbon tax.
Clean Climate Investment - $100 Billion Per Year
In Europe, as the debt crisis worsens, countries may have a difficult time funding the $100 billion a year they committed to helping developing countries fight climate change.
Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and France along with the US, Australia, South Africa, Japan and South Korea all committed to invest in clean technologies, renewable energy sources, reducing pollution and increasing subsidies. According to research from Ernst & Young, thanks in part to the debt crisis, there will be a investment gap of $22.5 billion by 2015.
Juan Costa Climent, Ernst & Young’s global climate change and sustainability services leader, told Reuters: "The enormous projected funding gap revealed by this report suggests continuing economic uncertainty is pushing a low carbon economy further out of reach."
If a deal is not reached at the UNFCCC, Climent says: “Rather than working out how to live in a carbon-constrained economy, the emphasis will be on living in a climate-constrained world."
The world’s largest carbon emitter is China. Despite this fact, China is seen as a key part in the success of the UNFCCC.
World Resources Institute Director Jennifer Morgan told Reuters: “My sense is that if Durban fails it would be due to the lack of US political will to deliver and if it succeeds it would be due to China's extra efforts."
China has invested $54 billion in low-carbon technology and realizes that if it is going to be a world power, it must lead in green energies and technologies.
Key Statistics – Climate Change (source: United Nations)
- Arctic sea ice shrink by 2.7% annually. During the summer, sea ice decreases by nearly 7.5%.
- Since the 1980s, the top permafrost layer has increased by up to 3C.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the maximum amount of seasonally frozen ground has decreased by around 7% since 1900. In spring, this amount decreases by 15%.