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2+2=5? Copenhagen targets add up to 750 ppm

Here is the critical point to remember if a compromise agreement is somehow salvaged by the end of this week: the emission reduction commitments currently on the table add up to global atmospheric carbon concentrations of approximately 750 ppm. That means 4C average global temperature rise by the end of the century, agricultural wipeout, mass extinctions and almost certain runaway heating of the planet.

If Copenhagen produces another political statement that claims to be aimed at limiting warming to 2C and carbon concentrations of 450 ppm, citizens around the world should be in no doubt that they are being lied to by their leaders. This is a point that G77 representative, Lumumba Di Aping, has made overnight, telling ABC that "The message Kevin Rudd is giving to his people, his citizens, is a fabrication, it's fiction."

It is very telling, and deeply troubling, that the 30-45% emissions target range for developed countries that had been in the draft KP text yesterday has now been removed and replaced with an X. It seems negotiators would prefer to remove targets from the agreement than lift them to where they actually need to be.

There is a genuine feeling of barely contained panic around the Bella Centre because quite a few of the texts are just not in a state where ministers can deal with them - they are full of brackets and X's and uncertainties. The LULUCF text in particular is such a shambles that it cannot be given to ministers to knock into anything decent. This has meant that ministerial meetings are already starting simultaneous with the drafting meetings which are supposed to feed into the ministerials! It makes no logistical sense and is a recipe for more confusion, more breakdown in trust, and worse outcomes, if any can indeed be reached.

If you recall, early on in the conference I noted the Australian Youth Climate Coalition delegates are wearing t-shirts which say "don't [bracket] our future". Tragically for all of us, the text we have now is so bracketed that that is precisely what world leaders are doing - bracketing our future.

It is no use Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd lamenting that the text isn't good enough to achieve the 2C goal. The lack of ambition shown by Australia and other developed countries in their targets is the major contributing factor. In recent months, many developing countries, including China and Brazil, have put targets on table in good faith, expecting that their move would lead to the developed countries making the next move in this diplomatic chess game and lifting their targets.

Nothing has been done, with the honourable exceptions of the UK and Norway.

The question now is, will world leaders arriving here prefer to have egg on their faces with a failed agreement, or will they prefer to lie to their people and claim that their 750 ppm targets add up to a 2C goal? Or will they finally do what it takes?

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