US must take the lead on climate: Greenpeace

Press release - 22 June, 2009
Greenpeace today called on the United States to take the lead on climate action as the world’s largest emitters gathered in Mexico for the US-led Major Economies Forum.

A banner reading 'Save the Climate, Act Now!' was unfurled in Cuernavaca City, where the meeting is being held, as the Forum opened. Leadership is urgently needed to achieve a climate saving treaty at Copenhagen in December.

Environment ministers meeting in Mexico over the next two days are discussing the communiqué for the MEF Leaders meeting, which will take place at the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy next month. It is a key stepping stone to achieving a climate rescue plan in Copenhagen.

President Obama promised the MEF's role would be transformed from George W Bush's original intention of undermining international action on climate change - to one which would support a successful UN outcome at the end of the year.

However, in order to achieve this goal, the developed world - in particular the US and the other G8 members - must commit to deep mid-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and put long-promised money on the table for developing countries to adapt to - and take action on - climate change, and protect forests. The G8 environment ministers (or similar) are present at today's meeting.

Greenpeace said that the US was also far too focused on pushing the large developing countries for climate action, when it was US inaction that was holding everything up.

"President Obama has said that the US is ready to lead on climate change but his words must now become his deeds. The developing world needs to see serious commitment from the US in the form of money on the table and agreements to substantial emissions cuts by 2020 - and the world's major emitters must see that the US is serious so they too will take the necessary action," said Daniel Kessler of Greenpeace USA, in Mexico for the MEF.

US Government scientists this week confirmed global temperature rise needed to be kept well below two degrees C below pre-industrial levels. But the Obama Administration continues to refuse to acknowledge this limit, and has instead kept the focus on the long-term, 2050 targets, despite the fact that the industrialized world needs to cut emissions 40% by 2020.

Greenpeace distributed its checklist for the G8.  To avoid climate catastrophe, these countries need to:

•    Keeping global temperature rise to as far below a 2°C Celsius as possible, compared to pre-industrial levels.

•    Global emissions peaking by 2015 and falling to as close to zero as possible by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

•    Greenhouse gas emission cuts, as a group, of at least 40% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

•    Provide the majority of the USD 140 billion per year needed for developing countries to adapt to - and take action on - climate change, and provide money for forest protection.

•    Immediately establish a funding mechanism to end deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020, with key areas (Amazon, Congo Basin and the Paradise Forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) achieving zero deforestation by 2015.

Other contacts: Cecelia Navarro, Greenpeace Mexico: +52 55 4084 5320Daniel Kessler Greenpeace USA: +1 510 501 1779Gustavo Ampugnani, Greenpeace International: +52 55 5687 9595

VVPR info: For Photos please contact:Tim Aubry, Greenpeace USA (Washington DC): + 1 703 835 6306

Notes: (1) The 17 MEF members are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.