Industrialized countries missing the target to avert runaway climate change

Media release - April 6, 2009
The total greenhouse gas emission cuts planned by industrialized countries at the UN climate talks in Bonn total a grossly insufficient 4-14 percent by 2020, nowhere near what science says is necessary to avert runaway climate change, Greenpeace warned today.

Greenpeace has calculated this total from targets announced so far by developed nations and released the figure in Bonn at the start of the second week of talks designed to produce a global climate saving deal at December's Copenhagen Climate Summit. (1)

This low level of reductions would significantly narrow the window of opportunity for preventing catastrophic climate change. It would make it extremely difficult to reach a global peak in emissions anywhere near 2015, what science says is required to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. It would also allow governments to make investments that would lock-in fossil fuel infrastructure, like coal-fired power plants, and make it much more expensive to make the deeper cuts which would be required later.

"The scientific evidence shows climate change is getting increasingly serious. Over the weekend we saw yet another massive Antarctic ice shelf start to collapse," said Carroll Muffett, Greenpeace USA deputy campaigns director. "This dangerously low target sends a clear message to the developing world that the developed world is not serious about tackling climate change."

"You can't change the science, you have to change the politics," he added.

Greenpeace is calling on developed countries to agree to an aggregate emissions reduction target of 40 percent by 2020.

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Greenpeace spokespeople available for interview from the following countries and languages:

India, China, Brazil, Mexico, Europe (English, French, Dutch, German, Finnish, Danish), US, Australia, New Zealand

In the US:

Carroll Muffett: 202-425-2934; Mike Crocker: 202-215-8989

In Bonn:

Cindy Baxter: +49 170 195 5833 or +31 646 197 332; Stephanie Tunmore +44 7796 947 451

(1) Some of the targets were in submissions to the UNFCCC; some announced by Governments at home but not yet submitted, such as Japan. See attached table (below, or view as a PDF), along with a "state of play" summary. These figures include the Obama Administration's announced target of 0 percent by 2020 (at 1990 levels), but not the Waxman bill introduced last week because it is not yet legislation.

Greenpeace: Emissions targets of industrialized countries