Asia’s future melts away as climate talks stall

Press release - 2009-08-28
Greenpeace has placed ice sculptures of 100 children at the Temple of Earth in Beijing today, symbolizing the disappearing future of the more than 1 billion people in Asia who are threatened with water shortages by the changing climate. [1]

Made from glacial melt water from the source of Yangtze, Yellow and Ganges rivers, the melting sculptures mark the start of the 100-day countdown to the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Summit, and the launch of the TckTckTck campaign [2], which is urging governments to agree a fair, binding and ambitious deal at the Summit. At the same time, an ice sculpture in the form of the number "100" on a World Map is also being unveiled in New Delhi to show "the world washed away" by glacial melts.

The temple of Earth used to be where Chinese emperors prayed for the well being of Earth and good harvests. "We are here today to highlight the catastrophic danger faced by our planet earth. The disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers threatens the fresh water supply of the one fifth of the world's population who live in their watershed. If world leaders don't agree to stop runaway climate change, children of today will grow up facing a constant struggle to secure reliable access to drinking water." said Greenpeace China Climate and Energy Campaign Manager Yang Ailun.

"It's real concern about climate change impacts like the threat to our water supply that is driving China and India to pursue a low-carbon development path that balances development and environmental protection," said Greenpeace India Climate and Energy Manager Vinuta Gopal. "If the developed world doesn't take the opportunity to support developing countries to both adapt to and mitigate climate change, then that balance won't hold and we will suffer an environmental catastrophe."

The latest scientific research shows that to avert catastrophic climate impacts, global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2015 and decline after that in order to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. Greenpeace urges developed countries, as a group, to agree to cut emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Developing countries must reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30% by 2020. To support these cuts, funding from the developed world of $140 billion a year is needed.

"The future prosperity of India and China is literally melting away," Yang Ailun added. "With only 100 days to go before the Copenhagen Climate Summit, leaders around the world must take personal responsibility for averting climate chaos and stop the greatest threat to all of humanity."


[1] Glaciers in the Greater Himalayas region (including the Qinghai-Tibet plateau) provide 8.6 million cubic meters of fresh water annually to the continent. The region is home to the headwaters of the Yellow, Yangtze, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Salween, and Indus rivers. As a result of the changing climate, the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking faster than those anywhere in the world. An IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report indicates that if the world continues to warm at its current rate, 80 percent of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear within 30 years.

[2] Tcktcktck, which Greenpeace is part of, is an online and offline mobilization which brings together an unprecedented alliance of faith groups, non-governmental organizations, trade unions and individuals at this crucial time to call for a new international climate change treaty at the UN Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009.  Tcktcktck will harness the voices of people from around the world to call for an ambitious, fair and binding international agreement that reflects the latest science.  As December's meeting in Copenhagen approaches, Tcktcktck will organize around major international meetings and other relevant events to demonstrate the support from citizens around the world in having world leaders attend the negotiations in Copenhagen and produce an ambitious, fair and binding agreement.

VVPR info:

Hans Xu: Media officer, Greenpeace China
Tel: +86-10-65546931 ext 123; Mobile: +86-13401098073

Yang Ailun: Climate & Energy Campaign Manager, Greenpeace China
Tel:+86-10-65546931 ext 106; Mobile: +86-13910514449;

Vinuta Gopal, Climate & Energy Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India
Mobile: +86 135 0913 9340 (in Beijing until 30 Aug)

International photo desk:
Jiri Rezac, Photo Editor
Mobile: +44 7801 337 683

Greenpeace China video desk:
Lizi Hesling, Greenpeace China Video Producer,
+86 10 65546931 ext 160
Videos of 4 Himalayan stories (in B-roll format) will be available via FTP:
ftp:, Username: lizi_gpc, Password: KDaG.WaD