Greenpeace Statement on the U.S. Global Change Research Program Report

by Mike Gaworecki

June 17, 2009

In response to the U.S. Global Change Research Program report released by the White House today, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Damon Moglen issued this statement:

The White House report on climate change is a stark confirmation of what scientists have been saying for years: unless we dramatically curb our emissions, the world will face unprecedented climate disruptions that will lead to drought, flooding, rising seas, food insecurity and mass displacement. But it begs the question: are the President and Congress taking the action necessary to avert this crisis?

As the report makes clear: ‘Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices [we] make today.’ With international climate negotiations veering off course and an inadequate global warming and energy bill moving through the House, the time has come for President Obama to move from words to deeds and commit to doing what is necessary to avoid runaway climate change.

To minimize the risk of truly catastrophic climate change, scientists say we must take action to keep global temperature rise as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible. Today’s report confirms that to stay within this threshold, we must take aggressive action now and that ‘earlier cuts in emissions would have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions later.’ It is troubling that, even as this report was being finalized, senior Administration officials refused even to commit to a 2 degree limit on warming and argued that the world should emphasize long-term action over the near-term targets most important to head off climate change.

The Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that to avoid the worst climate impacts, the United States and other industrialized countries must cut their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Yet the targets being developed by Congress, and supported by the President, fall far short of this goal. If we are to avert climate catastrophe, the President must deliver on his campaign pledge to set climate policy based on science, not politics.

To do so, President Obama must commit the United States to keeping global warming as far below 2 degrees as possible, and lead America and the world in meeting that target. We call on the President to use every tool at his disposal, both within and outside Congress, to create U.S. climate policy with scientific integrity, and to take that policy to Copenhagen in December as evidence that the U.S. will do what it takes to solve the climate crisis.”

Specifically, the President must commit the United States to:

  • Keeping global temperature increases as far below 2 degrees as possible;
  • Achieving real emission reductions of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020;
  • Eliminating offsets that undermine real emission reductions; and
  • Providing the substantial international funding necessary to stop emissions from deforestation and help developing countries adapt to unavoidable climate impacts and leapfrog the dirty energy sources that would further exacerbate the problem.

Today’s report is a clarion call that the President and Congress must do much more, and more quickly, to respond to the climate crisis. We urge them to heed that call.

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