Obama offers a chance for climate action

Press release - 5 April, 2009
As US President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of thousands in Prague, Greenpeace activists unveiled a banner urging him to “lead the change on climate”, a challenge Obama accepted in his speech [1]. At the same time Six Greenpeace activists unfurled a huge banner reading "Bail Out the Climate" from a bridge opposite the building in Prague where the EU-US Summit is taking place today.


“Obama has said today that the US is ready to lead on climate change. Now we need to see the European Union commit to working with him on that,” said Jan Rovanesky, Greenpeace Czech Republic Climate Campaigner.

With the US now committed to action on climate change there is an opportunity for the transatlantic alliance to take real action. Runaway climate change could make poverty permanent in the developing world, and strangle growth in the developed world, but the right decisions could head off the looming crisis.

To reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and cope with the already unavoidable impacts of climate change, developing countries need at least €110 billion a year by 2020 from rich countries [1]. This money should be raised through an international scheme that asks rich nations to pay for their carbon footprint, thus providing the certainty developing countries need to leverage private funds for green investment. [2]

Besides financing green measures in developing countries, both the US and the EU will need to upgrade their reduction targets in the light of recent science. To avoid runaway climate change, developed countries as a group need to commit to an aggregate target of at least 40% emission reductions from 1990 levels by 2020. [3]

World leaders have a chance to deliver both the financing and emission cuts through the UN climate process. Greenpeace is calling on heads of state to engage in the negotiations personally and attend the final climate summit in Copenhagen, at the end of the year, to ensure a good deal for the climate. [4]

“It’s time our leaders start bailing out the climate, instead of the banks.” concluded Rovanesky.


Other contacts: Szabina Mozes, Greenpeace International, ,Mobile: + 43 664 61 26 725Lenka Boráková, Greenpeace Czech Republic, , Mobile : +42 739 085 118 Greenpeace International photo desk + 44 (0) 7801 615 889

Notes: [1] “To protect our planet, now is the time to change the way that we use energy. Together, we must confront climate change by ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, tapping the power of new sources of energy like the wind and sun, and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort, the United States is now ready to lead.” [2] The finance package should be divided as follows:• €40 billion a year to shift developing countries onto a low emissions pathway;• €30 billion a year to stop deforestation through a ‘forests for climate’ protection fund (see www.greenpeace.org/forestsforclimate for details on Greenpeace’s proposed funding mechanism);• €40 billion a year to enable the most vulnerable to cope with climate change.[3] To see how much each EU country should contribute and how to raise the funds, see http://www.greenpeace.org/financing-eu-responsibility[4] This would mean 40% emission reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 for the EU; and 25% emission reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 for the US.[5] A good deal at Copenhagen would require1. Developed countries, as a group, must reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). At least three quarters of these reductions must be achieved domestically. 2. 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, with support from industrialised countries. 3. A funding mechanism must be established to stop deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020.Developed countries need to commit to adequate funding to enable developing countries to speed up the switch to clean technology, rapidly reduce tropical forest destruction and to adapt to unavoidable climate change impacts on a wide scale. Public funding in the region of USD 140 billion (€ 110 billion) a year will be required.