Needed: 5 Gigatonnes of Further Reductions

Posted on 09 December 2010 by admin

Civil society is calling on governments to act decisively. Credit: Davison Makanga/IPS

By Mantoe Phakathi

CANCÚN, Dec 9, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) – A reminder of the weakness of the status quo as climate talks in Mexico build towards  their conclusion: even if all parties were to honour the pledges made in the Copenhagen Accord, emissions reductions would fall badly short of what is needed to avert catastrophic global warming.

A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report assessing the voluntary commitments made as agreement on a legally-binding treaty failed in Denmark last year shows the world is not yet on the path towards the necessary reductions.

UNEP’s report, titled The Emissions Gap, was put together by 30 scientists from 25 countries. It states that by 2020 global emissions should be around 44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gases to have a good chance of limiting an average temperature rise to under two degrees Celsius by 2050.

“This report uses the Copenhagen Accord as a benchmark to assess progress from the pledges made 12 months ago,” said UNEP under-secretary general executive director Achim Steiner.

“If all the pledges made in Copenhagen are met in full, including the financing pledges, emissions might hit 49 gigatonnes leaving a gap of five gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent that needs to be filled by greater action,” he said.

“The report qualifies and quantifies gaps in the mitigation of climate change,” said Juan Rafael Elvira, the Mexican secretary for Environment and Natural Resources.

The gap between current pledges and expected outcome in climate change terms again underlines the importance of regaining momentum towards an ambitious and legally-binding agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

Even a two-degree rise is not considered an acceptable target. More than half of the parties to the UNFCCC, 100 countries, have called for efforts to set a target of 1.5-degree temperature rise, said Dessima Williams, the Ambassador for Climate Change from Grenada.

“The pledges made in Copenhagen fell short of expectations backed by scientific evidence that even with the 1.5 degree rises, the earth will still face devastating effects from climate change,” said Williams, whose native Grenada is amongst those calling for the more ambitious target.

“Cancún is not about lowering expectations. We need to come up with policies that will address the problem which is already causing havoc in developing countries,” said Williams.


Leave a Reply


Photos from our Flickr stream

The Caribbean's fishing industry provides direct employment for more than 120,000 people and indirect employment opportunities for thousands of others. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPSVillagers prepare to dig a deep well by hand in the drought-stricken village of Tunukkai in Sri Lanka's northern Mullaithivu District. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPSBill de BlasioAl Gore
Campaigner with Koch bros.Students at NYC Climate marchSave meIndigenous group at NYC Climate march

See all photos


With the support of