Greenpeace awards medals of shame to Global Leaders for climate failure

Feature story - January 22, 2010
Over 75 Greenpeace activists from Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines today demonstrated at the US embassy in Bangkok condemning the derailment of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen by a handful of countries led by the US.

A Greenpeace activist impersonating US President Obama raises the ‘Carbon Dioxide Champions Trophy’, presented by Greenpeace in front of the US Embassy in Bangkok. He is flanked by Prime Ministers Stephen Harper of Canada and Kevin Rudd of Australia who received ‘medals of shame’ for their failure in Copenhagen.

Greenpeace activists presented US President Obama with the 'CO2 Champions Trophy', followed by medals of shame to Canadian Prime Minister Harper and Australian Prime Minister Rudd to mark their failure in Copenhagen.             

During frenzied talks on the final night of last month's failed climate summit, the US government drew up the so-called Copenhagen Accord. It remains as a political declaration, having not been formally adopted by the Copenhagen conference.

"The Copenhagen Accord is not the legally binding agreement millions of people were expecting from the world's leaders gathered in Copenhagen, and should be seen as no more than a weak political declaration calling upon countries to recognise the need to keep increases in global temperature below 2 degree Celsius," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "The Accord, as it stands, condemns the people of Southeast Asia, one the world's most vulnerable and least prepared regions to deal with climate change, to a future of continued and worsening climate chaos, " he added.

The Accord's stated objective is to "hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C".(1) However, a confidential note from the UN climate Convention secretariat shows that current commitments by all governments to curb greenhouse gas emissions would see average global temperature rising more than 3°C compared to pre-industrial levels. This is far beyond the 'safe' limit of well under a 2°C rise indicated by the best available science.

In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, Greenpeace is calling on industrialised countries to together cut their emissions by 40% below their 1990 levels by 2020 and for developing nations as a whole to reduce their projected growth in emissions by up to 30% over the same timescale.

"Greenpeace calls upon all countries to continue negotiations on a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement within the UNFCCC in order to adopt such a deal at the next climate summit in Mexico at the end of this year," said Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Manager. "Work has to be begin now in order to achieve this. Otherwise Mexico risks repeating the last-night brinkmanship which led to the failure of Copenhagen.

Greenpeace expects:

1)  governments to agree on a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol in a second commitment period and to adopt a second protocol covering emission reductions by industrialised countries and mitigation actions by developing countries by COP 16, scheduled to start in Mexico on 29 November 2010;

2)  industrialised countries, as a group, to commit to reduce emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, at least three quarters of this needs to be met by domestic action;

3)  industrialised countries to generate adequate and predictable funding, of the order of at least USD 140 billion annually, to support clean energy and other mitigation activities, forest protection and adaptation in developing countries;

4)  developing countries to engage in mitigation action in order to achieve a 15-30% deviation from business-as-usual emissions growth by 2020. Of these emissions reductions, developing countries would unilaterally implement those negative and zero-cost ("no regret") measures that can be achieved without external assistance, with industrialised countries supporting the rest;

5)  all countries to establish a funding mechanism for ending gross deforestation and associated emissions in all developing countries by 2020, and achieving zero deforestation by 2015 in priority areas such as the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and the Paradise forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. These emission reductions must be in addition to the cuts in emissions as described in paragraph 2 above. 


(1) Copenhagen Accord, FCCC/CP/2009/L.9, 18 December 2009, paragraph 2.

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