Emission cut pledges at COP 21, Beijing issues smog red alert

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Nov 08, 2015 (LBO) – Just 10 nations are sitting on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks with talks entering their second week after 185 countries made pledges to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.

So far the pledges, termed Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, are estimated to limit the temperature increase to 2.7 degrees Celsius.

Although this is short of the 2 degrees targeted at the conference, this is better than doing nothing, analysts said.

The last time countries tried to reach a global agreement was in 2009 in Copenhagen, but the discussions fell apart over who should move first on reducing pollution. This time delegates are more confident they can reach a deal.

The ten countries on the sidelines include Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria.

Delegates noted global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industry likely fell 0.6 percent in 2015 due to reduced use of coal in China and increased use of renewables.

This came as Beijing issued its first pollution red alert on Tuesday after smog enveloped the capital of 23 million people.

The alert will lead to millions of vehicles forced off the roads and factories, construction sites and schools being advised to close.

“This is a precedent set,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public an Environmental Affairs in Beijing.

Last week, Chinese authorities faced criticism when they failed to issue a red alert after pollution rose 40 times more than level considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

Beijing’s latest “airpocalypse” showed readings of the hazardous airborne particle PM2.5 exceeding 900 micrograms per cubic metre in some parts of the city.