Prior to the Bonn talks, a group of Nobel Prize Laureates made a strong case for that level of action. This week, another group of top scientists . One of the signatories, Dr. Myles Allen, a physicist at the University of Oxford, went even further:
"In addition to setting targets for emissions in 2020 and 2050, we feel the UNFCCC process should acknowledge that avoiding dangerous climate change will require emissions of the longest-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide eventually to cease altogether."
China remains a serious challenge. The world's number one carbon polluter announced that it will not make a binding commitment to slash its global warming emissions. That declaration followed two days of bilateral talks between the U.S. and China.
How those vital discussions fared is still fuzzy, as SolveClimate detailed here, but as in Bonn, it appears they produced little of substance. Pershing's public position is that the U.S. and China are "finding common ground."
The question is, has the U.S. abandoned all hopes of China taking up greenhouse gas limits? In Pershing's interview with Spiegel Online, he said that America is "still asking [China] to commit to legally binding CO2 reductions as part of a Copenhagen agreement."
And yet, he was quoted as saying that Beijing "should have" binding actions, but "not binding outcomes." And just days before, Obama's top climate negotiator Todd D. Stern : "We don't expect China to take a national cap at this stage."
What's perfectly clear at this stage is this. China is attempting to avoid being seen as the world's top climate criminal. In fact, as Beijing brushed off criticism of its intransigence on hard targets, media reports that the nation is planning a staggering clean energy investment of between $200-$600 billion, and may be increasing its renewable energy target from 15 to 20 percent.
India, for its part, continued its "my way or the highway" message at Bonn. The nation insisted that rich countries deepen their emissions cuts to a total of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, while at the same time rejecting emissions targets for developing countries. To its credit, India did that "within weeks" it will submit plans to generate 20,000 MW of solar power, among other low-carbon proposals.
"We are by no means going to go on as business as usual," Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.
As SolveClimate reported, there was little movement on how the world will finance climate mitigation and adaptation for the poorest nations.
Yvo de Boer has long said that financing is one of the four tough nuts to crack on the way to Copenhagen. The other three are binding mid-term targets from rich nations, commitments from poor nations, and a new governance regime. None has been resolved.