Greenpeace increases call for greenhouse gas emissions cuts in light of new science

Press release - 24 March, 2009
Developed countries must make deeper and quicker cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought, Greenpeace warned today, ahead of the first of the year's global climate talks which begin in Bonn (1) over the weekend.

The UN talks are expected to come up with an overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the developed world.

In the light of the latest science, the international environmental organisation has revised its demands of Governments, saying that developed countries, as a group, must agree to cut emissions by 40% by 2020, if we are to have a chance to avert catastrophic climate impacts. Developing countries must also take ambitious action.

In order to avoid runaway climate change, global emissions must not only peak by 2015, but they need fall to as close to zero as possible by mid-century.

Greenpeace had previously stated that the combined developed country target for 2020 should be at least 30%, and that global emissions should be cut by at least 50% by 2050. However the emerging scientific consensus makes it obvious that this will not be enough.

"The reality and pace of climate change is far outstripping anything we previously thought. Changes in the environment being witnessed today, including the rapid melting of the Arctic summer sea ice, make it clear that the threat of catastrophe is far more immediate than anyone imagined. The only way to turn this around is to cut early and cut deep" said Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International climate policy director.

He warned that developed country agreement on an overall target was absolutely crucial to get a science-based climate agreement by the end of this year. "The question for Governments is not about their popularity in the polls - but whether they want to save the world from catastrophic climate change." Failure to agree this over the next two weeks would put further pressure on the process throughout this year.

He said that the economic crisis demonstrates that Government leaders can take strong action in the face of an emergency. "The window of opportunity for avoiding runaway climate change is closing rapidly. Achieving the deep cuts needed to stop runaway climate change will require unprecedented leadership at the highest level."

In the spirit of a gradual widening, deepening and strengthening of global action, developing countries must reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30% by 2020. However, it is clear that to do this, along with ending deforestation and adapting to the already inevitable climate impacts, developing countries will need financial support from the developed world. This figure needs to be in the region of $140bn (€110bn) a year.

Other contacts: Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace International Climate Communications, mobile +31 646 197 332 Stephanie Tunmore,Greenpeace International Climate Communications, mobile +44 7796 947 451

Notes: (1) The talks in Bonn run from 29 March to April 9. They are the first of at least three crucial negotiating sessions to be held over the course of this year. The others will be in June (Bonn), and September (Bangkok), but extra sessions may be scheduled if negotiators don't make enough progress.

Exp. contact date: 2009-12-20 00:00:00