Posted on 12 Dec 2011
From Munich Re's perspective, this year's world climate summit in Durban yielded disappointing results that fail to reflect the world climate's dramatic situation. "Durban has had the effect of postponing efficient climate protection even further. Another nine years will pass before binding reduction targets might come into force, and even then it is still very unclear how the reduction targets will finally turn out", says Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Geo Risks Research at Munich Re. This was the outcome in spite of resolute negotiating efforts on the part of Germany and the European Union - efforts without which the summit would probably have yielded no results at all.
In order to limit global warming to a two-degree increase – the level at which it is thought to be still manageable, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced from 2020 onward. Yet the Durban resolution fails to provide for a binding international climate agreement prior to 2020. And it is not certain how strict the agreement will be. Moreover, the compromise of extending the Kyoto Protocol is in Munich Re's assessment a step backward as Canada, Russia and Japan have already withdrawn from the protocol, so that it now covers only about 15% of global emissions. "Neither for the targets from 2020 onward nor for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol are there any commitments regarding CO2 reductions", says Prof. Höppe. CO2 emissions have been rising for years anyway, and global warming is tending to worsen the hazards of weather extremes. Munich Re is convinced that, along with other factors, climate change is already contributing to increasing losses due to weather catastrophes.
Even though in the run up to Durban the chances of achieving a binding agreement on global climate protection were believed to be virtually nil, it was still considered definitely possible to achieve progress at least in the secondary negotiations on the provision of adaptation aid to the countries hardest hit by climate change. Prof. Höppe continues: "That no substantial progress was made in developing specific adaptation projects is very disappointing". "Increasingly severe weather extremes resulting from climate change are having an especially negative impact on developing countries, which are unable to protect themselves adequately, but have done hardly anything to contribute to global warming."
In Munich Re's view, it may be expedient to first arrange a meeting next year of a relatively small group of countries that are largely responsible for global emissions of greenhouse gases. The key to achieving efficient climate protection is to broker an agreement between the six largest emitters (China, USA, EU, India, Russia and Japan), which are responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions. Munich Re is also calling for a core group of countries to take the lead and intensify their efforts to promote renewable energies. Prof. Höppe: "Those should be the nations that are convinced both of the need to change their energy sectors over to renewable sources and of the enormous opportunities which these new key industries hold for the competitiveness of these countries." Apart from the European Union, the countries that come into question for this are India and China. Germany is to assume a leadership role. As Prof. Höppe see it, "Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the prime challenge of this century." "If we come to see climate protection more as an economic necessity than as a political challenge, it will take on unstoppable momentum."