Mind the Gap between today's pledges and tomorrow's climate change

Press release - 1 June, 2010
Bonn, 1 June 2010 — If Governments don’t agree to much bigger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, preventing climate chaos without causing economic collapse would be almost impossible, Greenpeace said today.

At a side-event at the reconvened UN climate talks in Bonn, Greenpeace joined with climate experts and representatives from South Korea and the Federated States of Micronesia to outline what environmentalists are calling the “Gigatonne Gap” between what governments have pledged since the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit and what is really needed to avoid runaway climate change.

Scientists have calculated that to have even a 25% chance of limiting global temperature rise to below 2C, then at most we can afford to pump 1500 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon emissions into the atmosphere between 2000 and 2050.  Around one third of that has already gone into the atmosphere this century.

The voluntary pledges made since Copenhagen, part of the so-called Copenhagen Accord, will lead to a warming of more than 3C, above pre-industrial levels, bringing with it climate chaos, and a higher risk of triggering tipping points such as the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet.

The current pledges would get us nowhere near being able to keep temperature rise below the already dangerous 2°C limit and certainly not below 1.5°C - as called for by more than 100 developing countries.

“Governments are not looking for climate-saving solutions but are instead listening to the lists of excuses for inaction being peddled by corporate lobbyists,” said Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace International climate policy advisor.  “World Leaders agreed in Copenhagen that there is a climate emergency – but so far the emergency response plan is missing.”

If governments leave making deeper cuts in emissions until after 2020, it will be virtually impossible to cut emissions later and still keep below 2°C because:
•  Delaying action would require such deep cuts in emissions to get back on the right path that it would have huge socio-economic impacts,
• Delaying action would allow the energy giants to build vast new fleets of climate changing fossil-fuelled power plants. Over half the power supply needed for 2020 has yet to be built.

“Waiting another decade or more to take serious action on climate change isn’t an option if you want to prevent climate chaos without serious economic harm,” said Kaisa Kosonen.  “There are clear solutions – but the first step to recovery is recognising that you have a problem – and in this case the problem can be measured in gigatonnes.”

Some of those solutions include:
•    Industrialised countries moving to an unconditional emissions reduction target of 30% by 2020 (on the way to a 40% target)
•    No cheating through dodgy accounting rules under Kyoto including hot air, and  land use and forestry emissions that allow countries to hide their real emissions
•    Developing countries doing more than their current pledges
•    Ending tropical deforestation and drainage and burning of peatlands

Notes to editors - Full briefing


Cindy Baxter Greenpeace Communications  +31 621 296 899 or +49 170 1955 833
Greenpeace International climate advisor Kaisa Kosonen:  +35 850 368 8488 or +49 1525 1544 961
Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Wendel Trio +49 170 199 1487