US says 2 degree limit only 'guidance'



US says 2 degree limit only `guidance` Durban: The US today shocked observers at the climate change conference here by saying that the 2 degree Celsius limit for increase in the Earth's temperature is not like a "national target" but only a "guidance".

The 2 degree limit to global temperature rise was agreed in previous climate talks in Bali in 2007, and governments recognise its importance.

The figure is based on the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Island nations, which are the most vulnerable to sink due to rising sea levels, wanted to set the cap at 1.5 degree Celsius.

Scientists have been warning that if the Earth's temperature goes over the 2 degree Celsius, it will lead to dangerous irreversible consequences.

"We look at 2 degrees as an important and serious goal that will guide what we will do, Todd Stern, the US lead negotiator told reporters in this South African city.

"That is still different from looking at it as an operational cap that you must meet."

"I think if we look at science and you see the trajectories it ought to inform our sense of what needs to be done...it might cause us or someone else to say jeez we need to do more but we don't see it as akin to a national target," he added.

"That's a nuance but that's a different."

The US remarks came as the climate change talks kicked into the final stage.

"It is maddening...I think the US position is becoming more and more paranoiac," said Pratap Pandey from the Centre of Science and Environment in Delhi. "It's fine to resort to rhetoric but it’s pathetic to take recourse to nonsense."

Recently, Pa Ousman JARJU from Gambia, who represented the Least Developed Countries, said that if the US cannot help combat the climate crisis, then it should not block negotiations.

Government negotiators and ministers from 194 countries are struggling to agree on the next steps for combating climate change.

Developments over the past week, however, indicate deep divisions between developed and developing nations especially on the obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

However, negotiators are indicating that the mechanism to operationalise a Green Fund maybe achieved here before December 9.

The Fund will provide USD 100 billion a year starting from 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

But the developing countries are worried that the Fund will become an "empty shell" if developed countries don't actually pledge the money.

Stern said that the US is "Not prepared to put money yet where there is nowhere to put the money."

Developing countries are also wary that rich donor nations are pushing for a bulk of the money to come from private sources.

"There is a vastly larger pool of private capital in the world that is potentially available if the right kind of mechanism can be put in place," said Stern.

Developing nations, however, are concerned that it will be very difficult to monitor the activities and motives of private companies, which have a penchant of investing in projects that will yield profits.

But these private projects may not necessarily be the greenest or best option for the targeted developing nation.

PTI