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A battalion of EU officials will soon board their long-haul flights to go to Bali for December's climate change negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. They go armed with moral superiority. While others, notably the US, deny and dither, the EU wants a binding 50 percent global greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2050, writes Stephen Gardner.

This, says the Commission, will ensure global warming is kept at no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But few observers know that this target was agreed by EU states in 1996 and is hopelessly out of date. The latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes this clear. One of the report’s authors tells that the scientific consensus is now that any warming above 1.5 degrees will lead to eco-system breakdowns and other severe impacts.

The Commission is aware of the gap between its policy goals and the scientific reality. The problem is persuading member states to face uncomfortable facts. The commission “would like to go beyond” the targeted 50 percent emissions cut, says a spokeswoman, but “policies limp behind the scientific findings.”

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