World Faces Added Warming on Japan's Weaker Carbon Target

Japan’s watered-down greenhouse-gas pledge has left the Earth facing more warming than four years ago, according to a group of scientists and climate analysts.

Emissions pledges by all nations chart a path for the planet to warm by 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the Climate Action Tracker said today in a study released during United Nations climate talks in Warsaw. That’s 0.6 degrees more warming than projected four years ago, when countries including Japan set targets for emissions.

With the UN envoys seeking to limit warming since the pre-industrial era to 2 degrees Celsius to contain the worst effects of climate change, including longer droughts, rising seas and stronger storms, backtracking by Japan and Australia is making that goal harder to reach, according to the report.

“We are seeing a major risk of a further downward spiral in ambition, a retreat from action, and a re-carbonization of the energy system led by the use of coal,” said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics, one of three organizations that run the Climate Action Tracker program.

Japan’s new target, announced on Nov. 15, reverses course by allowing a 3.1 percent increase in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, rather than seeking a 25 percent cut, as promised four years ago.

Policy changes in Australia, where Prime Minister Tony Abbott is delivering on a campaign promise to abolish a carbon tax, risks exacerbating climate change, Climate Action Tracker said. There are “some positive signals” from the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest emitters, the organization said.

Aside from Climate Analytics in Potsdam, Germany, the tracker is run by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Ecofys, an energy consultant with offices in the U.S., China, Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

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