Governments challenged to deliver more ambitious emissions reductions targets

Press release - February 2, 2010
Fifty-five governments have submitted pledges to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to cut and limit their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, as part of the Copenhagen Accord. In doing so, they have accepted the Accord's objective of avoiding dangerous climate change by keeping global warming below 2 degrees C. Greenpeace calls on the 55 governments to take on tougher new emissions targets or face charges that they are ‘greenwashing’ their plans.

Paragraph 2 of the Copenhagen Accord specifically states, "We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required... with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective..."(1) This level of warming is regarded as a critical threshold beyond which there may be irreversible large-scale impacts on the environment.

"The world is waiting for these 55 governments to urgently outline what each of them intends to do to ensure global warming is kept under 2 degrees C," said Bernhard Obermayr, of Greenpeace. "They have to walk the talk if the Copenhagen Accord is to be anything other than a greenwashing tool for the failure of world leaders during last December's climate summit."

Staying well below the warming threshold requires industrialised nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and provide substantial funding to developing countries which need to reduce their projected growth in emissions by 15-30% by the same date.

Current targets by industrialised countries fall far short of this. Together they amount only to an 11-19% reduction in their overall emissions. The effect of proposed forestry credits mean effective cuts in emissions from fossil fuel use would be lower still. These commitments mean an average global temperature increase of more than 3 degrees C, compared to pre-industrial times.(2) As a new Greenpeace briefing highlights, the environmental and social implications could be catastrophic.(3)

Greenpeace has compared pledges made by the 55 governments prior to or during the Copenhagen summit against those that had by yesterday been submitted to the UN.(4) The comparison shows a slight slackening of international effort to combat climate change.(5) This is due to Canada downgrading its already weak emissions reduction target to bring it into line with that of the United States.

"Governments are going in reverse as regards action to combat climate change," said Bernhard Obermayr. "If they fail to outline how they are going to prevent warming from reaching the agreed threshold of 2 degrees C, concerned citizens will realise they have just been sold the biggest climate lie of all."

Other contacts: Bernhard Obermayr, Greenpeace Head of the Climate and Energy Campaign, Greenpeace Central and Eastern EuropeTel: +43 664 490 4986E-mail: reenpeace International Press DeskTel: +31 20 718 2470E-mail:

Notes: (1) Copenhagen Accord, FCCC/CP/2009/L.7, 18 December 2009. (see paragraph 2)
(2) Preliminary Assessment of pledges made by Annex 1 Parties and voluntary actions and policy goals announced by a number of Non-Annex 1 Parties. 15 December 2009. (Note: the final two pages of this document are tables of governments' pre-Copenhagen emissions commitments).
(3) The Third Degree, briefing document, Greenpeace International, 1 February 2010.
(4) UNFCCC receives list of government climate pledges, press release, 1 February 2010.
(5) Comparison of pre-Copenhagen commitments, and pledges made in response to the Copenhagen Accord (as of 2 February 2010)