China’s thing about numbers

June 30, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

AMID the alphabet soup and baffling procedures of last month’s climate-change conference in Copenhagen, it was easy to forget the overall aim: to move from a world in which carbon dioxide emissions are rising to one in which they are falling, fast enough to make a difference.

How fast is enough? A fair measure is carbon and other greenhouse emissions in 2050; if by that date they are only half their 1990 level, most people agree, then things would be on the right track. Another widely accepted calculation: if developing countries are to grow a bit between now and then, rich countries would need to slash emissions to a level at least 80% below what they were in 1990.

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